Since Rafale aircraft deliveries to India began, the aircraft assembled in Merignac have systematically made the trip by air accompanied by an Air Force A330 MRTT Phoenix tanker aircraft. The objective for Paris was twofold. On the one hand, allow long-distance delivery by reducing the number of stopovers to a minimum, and thus show the potential and reliability of the French hunter both to the authorities and to Indian public opinion, which, moreover, has taken a an unfailing enthusiasm for the Rafale since the first delivery. On the other hand, it was a question of showing to the Indian authorities as well as to the Indian Air Force, the performances of the couple Rafale-A330 MRTT, while New Delhi is in search of a solution to acquire a fleet of six tanker planes.
It seems that the French strategy has borne fruit, since according to the daily Hindustantimes.com, the Indian authorities are said to have undertaken to negotiate with Paris the leasing of an A330 MRTT, in a process between States, with the aim of training the IAF personnel on the platform, in order to be rapidly operational when the 'IAF will receive 5 other MRTTs which would be acquired as a second step. The use of leasing allows the IAF to speed up the implementation process. An identical method was employed by New Delhi regarding the implementation ofa fleet of MQ9B Guardian drones, of which 6 units were initially rented beforean order of 30 copies is officially announced some months later.
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