The Indian Air Force is readying two frontline bases for the deployment of the first squadron of Rafale fighters scheduled for delivery from September 2019.
The government has sanctioned INR 220 Crore (US$ 33.6 million) to set up 14 shelters, hangers and maintenance facilities at the 78- year-old base for the Rafale jets whose delivery is scheduled to begin from September, 2019, PTI reported quoted a senior IAF official as saying Sunday.
"We are creating infrastructure keeping in mind infrastructure requirement for the Rafale jets for next 40-50 years," the official said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to media.
The Ambala base is considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF as the Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from it. Currently, the base has two squadrons of the Jaguar combat aircraft and one squadron of the MiG-21 Bison.
The IAF is also carrying out infrastructure upgrade at its Hasimara base in West Bengal+ which will house the second squadron of the Rafale jets, the official said.
In September last year, India had signed a Euro 7.87 billion (approx Rs 59,000 crore) deal with the French government for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets. Eighteen Rafale jets will be deployed in Ambala while an equal number of the new generation jet will be stationed in Hasimara.
"We are planning to put in place all required infrastructure for Rafale squadron by end of next year," said the IAF official.
The Ambala as well as Hasimara stations will also have simulator-based training facilities for the air crew of Rafale jets. The IAF has already selected a batch of pilots to fly the jets and they are being given training by Dassault Aviation in France.