India has dubbed reports as ‘baseless’ claiming Pakistan Air Force (PAF) flying Rafale fighter jets. Islamabad-based newspaper had claimed that PAF pilots got the training to operate Rafale fighter jets. The Pakistani media report, according to Times Now had stated: "(The aircraft) ... has reportedly been undermined by recent reports that Pakistani pilots were given access to the aircraft and trained to operate them in France... The Pakistani military is likely aware of the exact specifications of the fighters has dealt a serious blow to the platform's potential viability in Indian hands."
"While the primary pretext link for Rafale acquisition has been to counter Pakistan, particularly in light of recent skirmishes in the air between the two countries in late February 2019, news that the Pakistani military is likely aware of the exact specifications of the fighters has dealt a serious blow to the platform's potential viability in Indian hands.... Pakistani pilots under the Qatari Air Force were dispatched to France to train on the Rafales," it added.
Indian Air Force officials told news agency IANS that such claims were baseless.
After a long wait, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on September 20 received its first ‘acceptance’ Rafale combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation in France.
The Indian Air Force is looking forward to Rafale jets as they would help in plugging the fleet crunch. Experts say that the IAF has just 31 fighter squadrons as opposed to the required strength of 42. Case of two-front battle will be a Herculean task for India in current scenario.
The IAF has already completed preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots, to welcome the fighter aircraft. The sources said the first squadron of the aircraft will be deployed at the Ambala Air Force Station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from there.
RKS Bhadauria, the Indian Air Force chief, was instrumental in steering the Rafale jet deal between India and France. He was among the first officials to fly the French aircraft.