The French ambassador to India, Alexandre Ziegler, said on Apr. 11, 2019 that a report claiming that Qatar’s Rafale fighters are being flown by Pakistani pilots is fake news.
“I can confirm that it is a fake news,” Ziegler twitted.
Earlier, a media report had alleged that Qatar had received the first Dassault Rafale fighter jets and that Pakistani exchange pilots were the first to be trained for Qatari Emiri Air Force (QEAF) in November 2017.
The report caused concerns in the Indian military establishment since the Indian Air Force (IAF) is procuring 36 Rafales.
As previously reported, on Feb. 6, 2019, a ceremony hosted by Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, was held in Merignac facility for the delivery of the first Rafale to the QEAF, under the patronage of His Excellency Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs, and Geneviève Darrieussecq, French State Secretary to the Minister of Armed Forces, and in the presence of Qatar Emiri Air Force Commander, Major General Mubarak Al Khayareen.
The first Rafale delivery, on schedule, came after the signature in May 2015 of the contract for the acquisition by the State of Qatar of 24 Rafale fighters to equip its Air Force, and an additional 12, in December 2017, for a total of 36 aircraft to fly under the Qatari colors. In the frame of this contract, a large group of Qatari pilots as well as technicians are being trained in France both by the French Air Force and the French Industry.
Noteworthy along with the Rafales, QEAF ordered 24 Eurofighter Typhoons and 36 Boeing F-15QAs. The QEAF has a requirement for 72 new combat aircraft to replace its aging fleet of 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighters. If the orders are fulfilled in full, the QEAF will field a fighter force of 96 platforms across three different types.
For some years, Qatar has been building up its combat aviation capabilities with the procurement of the latest platforms and technologies. The increase in the QEAF’s frontline fighter force from the current 12 aircraft to upwards of 96, in particular, will represent a massive enhancement in its capacity and capability.
Photo credit: Dassault Aviation
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