Press Trust of india

First Rafale to be delivered in 2 months: French Ambassador

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Bhopal, Jul 5 :  French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler Friday said the first Rafale fighter aircraft will be delivered within two months and it will be “perfectly on time”.

The senior diplomat told PTI on the sidelines of a function here that all 36 Rafale jets will be delivered to the Indian Air Force within the next two years.

Calling it an excellent aircraft, he said it would add a lot to the capacity of the Indian Air Force.

“The first Rafale will be delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in two months from now, I think in September, perfectly on time. Thirty six will come within the next two years,” Ziegler said.

Hailing the partnership between the two nations, he said, “Look at the track record we have developed in cooperation with India in the past 50 years. The IAF has been flying with French technology, and Indo-French technology, because there is large amount of technology that we have co- developed.”

“I think this 50-year-old partnership (with India) will develop into a partnership of the next 50 years. I am confident about that,” he said.

On the fighter jet, the French Ambassador said, “Rafale has been an excellent aircraft. It being chosen by India, we feel honoured, we feel privileged. I think it will add a lot to the capacity of the Indian Air Force.”

Asked about the controversy in India over the purchase of the Rafale aircraft, he said, “I am not interested in controversy. I am interested in results, and in the facts, and the facts are that the first Rafale is coming in within next two months, and I am proud of that.”

In reply to a question on Indo-French partnership, Ziegler said, “We have an exceptional partnership with India. It’s a strategic partnership; it’s based on security issues, on defence, on space cooperation, on all these important matters.”

“This partnership is developing on the economic front, more and more French investment is coming to India, more and more private partnership is being set up between our companies,” Ziegler said, adding that people-to-people ties are also developing between the two nations.

“When I came to India three years ago, we had only 3,000 Indian students joining our universities every year.

Today we have reached the 10,000 mark. It has gone up by three times. If it grows three times in three years, can you imagine what it will be in 10 years,” the diplomat said.

Earlier, the French Ambassador presided over the closing ceremony of an Indo-French project on ‘Distribution Network Performance Enhancement Solutions’ carried out by French utility company EDF International Networks and the state-run Madhya Pradesh Power Management Company Limited (MPPMCL).

The project, which began in April last year, was financed by the French government.

Madhya Pradesh Minister for Energy Priyavrat Singh, Consul General of France Sonia Barbry and senior state government officers were present on the occasion.

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