The made-for-India Rafale fighter aircraft won't be ready in time to participate in the biennial Aero India air show to be held in Bengaluru from February 20-24, 2019.
Confirming this, Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal RK Singh Bhadauria said Dassault, the manufacturer of the aircraft, will send some other Rafale fighter planes to fly at the show.
India ordered 36 Rafale multi-role combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation of France in a controversial deal worth Rs 59,000 crore and the first plane is expected to arrive in the country in September 2019.
Rafale is a force multiplier and it will give a boost to the IAF which is down to 31 fighter squadrons when it actually requires 42 to fight a war on two fronts simultaneously.
The Rafales for India will come fitted with India-specific features for which IAF has paid Rs 12,780 crore extra. These include a more a more sophisticated radar, helmet-mounted display, Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, a towed decoy and low-frequency jammers.
The Meteor will give Rafale supremacy in the air as it has the capability to shoot down enemy aircraft at ranges out to more than 100 km. Air forces of both Pakistan and China don't have a missile as sophisticated as Meteor in their arsenal.
Rafale, which is a 4.5+ generation fighter plane, will replace the ageing and obsolete fleet of MiG 21 and MiG 27, which have been in service for more than three decades.
The 12th edition of the air show is going to be held at Indian Air Force's Yelahanka air base on the outskirts of the city.
This time around Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will play the main part in organising the show instead of Defence Exhibition Organisation, which has been hosting it since its inception.
Air Marshal Bhadauria said he hopes Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the show though the final call will be taken by Ministry of Defence.