Dassault Aviation has resumed training flights for Indian pilots on the Rafale fighter jet, following disruption in recent weeks owing to the COVID-19 crisis in France.
“At Merignac, the (conversion training center) activities started on Monday with a daily mission for two Indian Rafales, in order to meet our contractual obligations for delivery,” Dassault Aviatiion executive chairman Eric Trappier said in an April 8 note to staff on the company website, French website sldinfo reported.
Dassault manufacturing facilities are located at Merignac , a suburb of Bordeaux, southwest France. Flights have also restarted with the ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft and Falcon 900 business jet, both flying from Istres, southern France, he said.
On the training flights, the Merignac authorities had posted a schedule to address local noise concerns, with Indian pilots due to fly from October 2019 to March 2021, with take-off and landing from Bordeaux airport, Monday to Friday between 8.30 am and 6 pm (local time).
Qatari pilots had flown their Rafale training missions from April 8 to June 7, 2019, with three to four flights per week, the Merignac website said.
The first two Rafale jets are expected in India in May this year but it remains to be seen if this schedule can be met. Media reports have said that a delay of a month or two is possible owing to disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had accepted the jets on behalf of the Indian Air Force on October 8, 2019. India has ordered 36 jets in total equipped with the latest in weapons, sensors and communication systems.