The production of Rafale fighter jets for India at the Dassault Aviation facility has been stopped till March 31 in view of the French government's precautionary measures to contain coronavirus spread, Indian Air Force (IAF) sources told ANI on Friday, adding that this will have "no effect" on the arrival of the first batch of jets in May this year.
The future deliveries can get affected only if the COVID-19 lockdown in France is prolonged. The virus has claimed over 350 lives in the European country.
"The work in Dassault Aviation facility producing Rafale fighter jets for India has been stopped till March 31 in view of the measures taken by the French government to tackle COVID-19. Indian Air Force personnel are training at six different places in France," said sources.
"There will be no effect on the arrival of the first batch of these fighters in India in May this year. The future deliveries can get affected only if the COVID-19 issue gets prolonged for a longer period. India has already received the five India-specific Rafale combat jets on which our pilots are training," they added.
India and France had signed the Inter-Government Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale aircraft in 2016.
The weapons-package includes deadly air-to-air Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor missile and long-range SCALP precision-guided air-to-ground weapon. Rafale has several IAF-specific enhancements including capability for high-altitude engine start for undertaking high altitude operations.
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