French aerospace giant Dassault Aviation facing a new reality as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic spreads. Planemaker said that the production of Rafale fighter jets has been temporarily suspended in France due to the coronavirus outbreak, which could impact the delivery schedule of the aircraft to India.
Faced with the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus, Dassault announced on February 27 that it would have to suspend its objectives for the year 2020 due to “uncertainties regarding the scale of the pandemic, its geographical extent, its duration and its economic and social consequences“.
For its part, the Indian ministry of defense is struggling to finalize the date for induction of the first four Rafale jets amid speculations of delayed delivery of fighter jets from France due to coronavirus threat.
The Week Magazine reported that though Defense Minister Rajnath Singh last week claimed that the first four Rafale jets would land in India in the last week of May, the Air Force headquarters is yet to get confirmation from the French officials. Indian government on Wednesday suspended all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations till April 15.
In addition, the lockdown restrictions are expected to continue in France at least till the end of April due to severity of the outbreak.
In October 2019, on a visit to France for the second India-France ministerial-level annual defence dialogue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took formal delivery of the first Rafale jet built for the IAF at the Dassault Aviation’s facility in Merignac. The jets were scheduled to arrive in India by May 2020.
The Indian Air Force has awarded the contract for the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in 2016.