Pak pilots were not trained on Rafale jets, says France
   Date :12-Apr-2019

 
 
NEW DELHI:
 
American aviation industry website ainonline.Com reported that the first batch of pilots trained on the Rafale fighter jet for Qatar in November 2017 were ‘Pakistani exchange officers’ 
 
FRENCH Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler on Thursday dismissed as ‘fake news’ reports that a batch of Pakistani pilots was trained on Rafale fighter jets being procured by Qatari Air Force. American aviation industry website ainonline.Com reported that the first batch of pilots trained on the Rafale fighter jet for Qatar in November 2017 were ‘Pakistani exchange officers’. “I can confirm that it is fake news,” Ziegler tweeted. French diplomatic sources said no Pakistani pilots ever trained on Rafale jets in France.
 
There were concerns in the Indian military establishment over the report by the US-based website as India was also procuring 36 Rafale jets from France at a cost of Rs 58,000 crore. It is learnt that the Government got in touch with the French Government after the report and Paris conveyed to New Delhi that no Pakistani pilots were trained on Rafale jets in France. In 2015, Qatar sealed a USD 7 billion deal with French aerospace major Dassault Aviation to buy 24 Rafale jets, and later the gulf nation ordered another batch of 12 fighters. The first Rafale jet was delivered to Qatar by Dassault Aviation few months ago. Pakistan and Qatar have robust political and military ties. The report by the American website came in the midst of a simmering political slugfest over the Rafale deal.
 
The Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the deal while the Government has strongly rejected the charges. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected the Government’s contention that sensitive documents accessed by the media on the Rafale deal can’t be evidence. The apex court said that it will examine the papers while reviewing its order of December 14 last year giving a clean chit to the Government on the deal. Citing internal reports of the Defence Ministry, The Hindu daily had come out with a series of stories including one on how the Defence Ministry had objected to parallel negotiations carried out by the Prime Minister’s Office on the deal.