Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa after a sortie in Rafael during his ongoing visit of France

Even as the Congress and the BJP carry with their slug-fest over the Rafale fighter jet deal, Indian Air Force pilots are now getting a feel of the French Air Force-operated jets that are presently in India on transit visit of three days.

Three Rafale are now at the IAF base in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, where IAF pilots and their French counterparts will do “joint flying’. Gwalior is the base of Mirage-2000 jets, made by Dassault aviation, also the makers of Rafale. Last week, IAF pilots had a feel of the Rafale in Australia at a multi-nation exercise “Pitch Black”.

India’s own 36 Rafale start arriving only in September 2019. The Rafale jets in India are a part of the French Air Force organised mission ‘PEGASE’ in the Asia-Pacific region. One Atlas A-400M military transport aircraft, one C-135 re-fuelling aircraft and one Airbus A310 cargo aircraft are also in India.

The planes are returning back to France from a detachment in Australia. “This operational mission aims to reinforce France’s presence in this region of strategic interest”, said a statement of the French Embassy here. The French team is on a three-day stopover at the Air Force Stations in Gwalior and Agra.