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Rafale deal likely by year-end: IAF chief

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NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: In a bid to bolster India’s defense prowess, IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, on Saturday expressed hope that the negotiations for purchasing 36 Rafale jets from France would conclude by the year-end.

Mentioning that the negotiations for the deal, finalized during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s France visit in April, was progressing well, he said, “I am hopeful that the negotiations for the deal will not go beyond this year.”

Speaking at the annual press conference ahead of Air Force Day on October 8, he said, “it would take two to three years for the first of the two Rafale squadrons to be operational.”

He also said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) required at least six squadrons of medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), which would translate into over 100 jets, and that the Rafale was a good follow-on option. But the government would take a final decision on this.

“Definitely, we would like to have MMRCA variety of aircraft. At least about six squadrons to my mind. Let us see, there may be some other alternatives as well,” ACM Raha said.

Asked whether the additional four squadrons of aircraft would be Rafales or there was a possibility of other players getting into play, Raha said, “I may wish to have Rafale. But there are equally good aircraft. So if the deal is good and the government decides we need to have six of similar squadrons of MMRCAs.”

“I want the capability of Rafale-type aircraft. So, the government will have a look at it and based on urgency and the type of contract is signed with Dassault Aviation, further decisions may be taken by the government. I cannot predict,” he said.

The air chief admitted that the IAF was short in strength.

“We are currently short in strength… we need to replace many squadrons. The need is there for more. But it has to be viable in terms of cost, in terms transfer of technology and in terms of Make in India policy that the government is trying to implement,” he said.

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commons.wikimedia.org

“So if those terms and conditions are good then I am sure we will be able to get more. But as of now we are looking at 36,” he said.

The Rafale had in 2012 received the IAF nod for 126 jets in a $20 billion deal in the face of a stiff competition from five other manufacturers.

As the deal could not work out, another deal for purchasing 36 Rafale combat jets in fly-away condition was inked during the prime minister’s visit to France in April.

The IAF had expressed an urgent need for the 126 combat jets to primarily replace its aging fleet of Soviet-era MiG-21 planes and to plug the gap caused by the delay in the development of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA).

The IAF currently has 33 combat squadrons against a sanctioned strength of 39.5, which is sought to be raised to 42.

(With inputs from IANS)

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PM Modi Receives A Letter From Pamela Anderson To Promote Vegan Food

Anderson in her letter praised India's cuisine that made it the 'easiest place on earth' to be vegan.

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Anderson is a vegan, an advocate for animal rights, and an active member of the animal protection organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Baywatch icon and former Bigg Boss guest star Pamela Anderson on Friday wrote a letter on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to serve only vegan food at all government meetings and functions.

In this letter, she urges Modi to lead India’s fight against climate change by serving only delicious vegan (wholly plant-derived) food at all government meetings and functions. The animal rights group and the actor explained that raising animals for meat, eggs, and dairy causes nearly one-fifth of all human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions.

“With your country’s innovation and agricultural history, I’m sure that India-produced soy and other versatile foods can easily replace these damaging foods,” she writes. PETA Director urged Modi to adopt pro-vegan steps taken by other countries such as New Zealand, China and Germany.

“I appeal to you to show that India can equal or best them,” the 52-year-old actor added.

Modi  getting down from Air India Airplane.
Narendra Modi getting down from Air India Airplane.

Expressing concern over climate change she wrote, “My heart goes out to everyone affected by the severe air pollution plaguing Delhi. I worry about the residents as well as the animals who can’t wear face masks or stay indoors.”

She said that according to latest reports, 36 million Indians could face the threat of annual coastal flooding by 2050. The World Bank has predicted that at least 21 cities in India are approaching zero groundwater levels for next year and that 40 per cent of Indians may not have water to drink by 2030.

ALSO READ: Foodies Must Try These Dishes from the Streets of Kolkata

Anderson in her letter praised India’s cuisine that made it the ‘easiest place on earth’ to be vegan. “India is the easiest place to be vegan… I still remember the beautiful colour of saffron rice and the alluring aroma of veggie biryani. India’s foods are so fantastic and varied that it’s the easiest place on earth to be vegan”, she added.

Last month, she had written to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to serve nutritious vegan meals in correctional facilities. (IANS)