New Delhi (Sputnik): The French Air Force is providing training to foreign pilots in a bid to boost exports of its Rafale fighter jet, local media reported. The aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation was reportedly training Pakistani pilots on the Rafale even after they signed a deal with India.
According to the media outlet, pilots from Pakistan that were being trained by the French were Pakistani exchange officers. An exchange officer is a commissioned officer in a country's armed forces who is temporarily assigned to either to a unit of the armed forces of another country or to another branch of the armed forces of their own country.
"Qatari personnel will be trained at Base Aérienne 118 Mont-de-Marsan in southwestern France, Rochefort, and the Joint Intelligence Training Institute in Strasbourg. The first batch of pilots trained for Qatar in November 2017 were Pakistani exchange officers", AIN online reported when France delivered the first of 24 Rafale jet to Qatar in February of this year.
No confirmation from either Pakistan or France has followed so far.
The Narendra Modi government has been refusing to divulge details on Rafale deal saying "sensitive information" that is part and parcel of the contract could be used by the country's rivals — a reference to Pakistan.
"The main concern of the Government is relating to the availability of sensitive and classified information concerning National Security in the public domain", the Indian defence ministry said on Wednesday while reacting to an order by the Supreme Court of India in which it agreed to hear a review petition filed by the country's former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha demanding an enquiry into alleged corruption during the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jet for the Indian Air Force.
The Indian Air Force opines that the Rafale fighter jet will the best combat aircraft on the Indian sub-continent and once these are inducted into service, Pakistan won't dare to come near the Line of Control (LoC) or the international border.
"When the Rafale comes in, it will ensure that the deterrence of our air defence will increase manifold and they (Pakistan) will not come anywhere near our Line of Control or border. That kind of capability we will possess for which presently they (Pakistan) don't have an answer", Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on 25 March.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said in the past that Rafale fighter jets could have delivered better results during the recent air clash with Pakistan. India had chosen the Mirage 2000 to deliver precision-guided bombs to destroy alleged terror infrastructure in Balakot inside Pakistan on 26 February over the Pulwama terror attack in which at least 40 Indian soldiers were killed. A day after the "non-military pre-emptive strike" by the Modi government, the two nuclear-armed nations became embroiled in a major air clash which saw the loss of aircraft.
Meanwhile, the French ambassador to India in New Delhi has denied that Pakistani pilots were trained on Rafale as exchange officers for the Qatari Air Force.