France Govt Denies Report Claiming Pakistan Pilots Were Trained on Rafale Jets
French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler rejected the media report that said Pakistani Air Force pilots were trained on Rafale jets on Thursday and said, 'I can confirm that it is fake news'.
India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft as part of the upgrading process of Indian Air Force equipment.
New Delhi: The French government on Thursday denied reports that claimed Pakistani pilots were trained to fly the Rafale fighter jet, which is being procured by India in a euro 7.8 billion deal, for Qatar in 2017.
The claim was made by ainonline.com, a media firm which focusses on aviation.
The report, which was published in February, stated that while the first Rafale jet for Qatar was officially handed over at Dassault’s Merignac facility in February earlier this year, “The first batch of pilots trained for Qatar in November 2017 were Pakistani exchange officers.”
In a press release, Dassault said that Qatar had signed up for 24 Rafale fighter jets in May 2015. Two years later, in December 2017, Qatar placed an order for 12 more jets. “Qatar’s Rafale jets differ in detail from those delivered to France and Egypt, and integration of the Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pod and Elbit Systems TARGO-II helmet-mounted target designation system required extensive testing,” the report said.
The observations made in the report raise serious doubts about the secrecy claim that the BJP-led government has been making over the Rafale deal.
Faced with unrelenting fire from the opposition, which has been demanding for details of how Rafale manufacturer Dassault chose companies in Anil Ambani's Reliance Group to partner with in India, the government has time and again cited security reasons and said information this sensitive in nature cannot be made public.
Notably, a Pakistani news portal had, in February last year, reported the visit of the Commander of the Qatar Emiri Air Force to the Pakistan Air Force Headquarters in Islamabad. Pakistan's Air Chief reportedly pledged his support in the field of aviation and military training to his counterpart.
The training of Pakistani pilots in the Middle East is not a new thing as they have, in the past, actively operated with armed forces of the region.
However, French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler rejected the media report that Pakistani Air Force pilots were trained on Rafale jets on Thursday and said, 'I can confirm that it is fake news'
I can confirm that it is fake news. https://t.co/3XpPnfPqUc— Alexandre Ziegler (@FranceinIndia) April 11, 2019
In a unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to hear the review petitions on the Rafale fighter aircraft deal on merits on the basis of certain documents on the disparity in pricing details of the 36 jets, objections raised by the Indian negotiating team to parallel negotiations conducted by the Prime Minister's Office, among others.
The Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi dismissed the preliminary objections raised by the government claiming privilege over the Rafale documents and projecting the publication of the documents as part of a conspiracy following the leak of these defence purchase records from the Ministry of Defence.
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