IAF deputy chief flies Rafale jet in France amidst political slugfest in India
20 September 2018
Indian Air Force deputy chief Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar took to Rafale fighter aircraft on a test flight in France as political slugfest contined in India.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday hit out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for repeatedly 'lying' by making allegations over the Rafale deal.
As per a report by defence website LiveFistDefence, the IAF deputy chief completed a front-seat sortie in a Rafale at the Istres air base in France. He flew a Dassault-owned Rafale testbed sporting the India-specific software and system enhancements, separate from the first Rafale for India.
Air Marshal ‘Nambiar (Nambi) is among the first test pilots to fly the LCA Tejas program and fly precision strikes on Tiger Hill during the 1999 Kargil conflict.
Earlier this month, three Rafale jets had landed at the Maharajpur air base in Gwalior. The French pilots had made a layover while returning from Exercise Pitch Black 2018, the multilateral air training exercise that concluded recently in Australia. During the exercise in Australia, the IAF pilots had got a first-hand experience of the Rafale jet when an Indian pilot was onboard the fighter aircraft.
Amid allegations from Congress and other opposition parties, the IAF has recently been defending the Rafale jet.
Nambiar had recently said that Rafale is being discussed for the wrong reasons and once it is inducted into the IAF, it would 'revolutionise airpower in the sub-continent'. "The Rafale gives us full spectrum capabilities to a large extent and would revolutionise airpower in our sub-continent having capabilities which do not exist," he had said earlier this month.
Justifying the procurement of the jets, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, Chief of the Air Staff, had also said that IAF needs to strengthen its fleet to match the neighbours who have been modernising their military at a rapid pace.
Air Force Vice Chief Air Marshal SB Deo had also said that the IAF is waiting for the aircraft while adding that the allegations are being made about the deal by people who do not know the facts. "We're waiting for the aircraft. Rafale is a beautiful and capable aircraft. I shouldn't comment but I can tell you all this discussion and all these things going on in Rafale, because we know a lot about how everything went, we find that, people don’t have the information," the Vice Chief of Air Force had said.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley today hit out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for repeatedly 'lying' by making allegations over the Rafale deal.
"The campaign of falsehood is entirely led by the Congress President. His strategy is simple - concoct a lie and repeat it as many times. This, at least, provides him some concocted material for his statements/speeches for otherwise an issueless Congress," Jaitley said.
He added: "If the ‘Rafale concoctions’ were the first big lie, the second one stated repeatedly is that Mr. Modi waived off rupees two lakh fifty thousand crores of fifteen industrialists. Every word of that sentence repeatedly uttered by Rahul Gandhi is false."
Attacking Rahul, Jaitley said that public discourse is a serious activity and not a laughter challenge. "You lied on the Rafale deal, you lied on the NPAs. Your temperament to concoct facts raises a legitimate question – do people whose natural preference is falsehood deserve to be a part of the public discourse. Public discourse is a serious activity. It is not a laughter challenge. It cannot be reduced to a hug, a wink or repetition of falsehood. The world’s largest democracy must seriously introspect whether public discourse should be allowed to be polluted by the falsehood of a 'Clown Prince'," he said.