New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) will pay tributes to former Air Chief Marshal (ACM) BS Dhanoa for his relentless backing of the Rafale fighter jets, by putting his initials ‘BS’ on the tails of 30 of the 36 Rafale jets, news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) has reported.
The Rafale jets are to be handed to India by France as part of a deal between the two countries. The first of those jets was handed to India on October 8, which coincided with Air Force Day, with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh travelling to France to receive the aircraft and also taking a sortie in twin-seater trainer version.
Of the 36 jets, six will be trainer aircrafts and have on their tails, the initials of incumbent IAF chief, ACM Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, who was India’s lead negotiator for the deal. In fact, the tail number of India’s first Rafale is ‘RB-01,’ after the current air chief.
Speaking to PTI, a senior IAF official said, “All the Rafale fighter jets, except the trainer ones, will have the initials BS in their tail number. This is our way to thank the former IAF chief for the role he played in getting us the Rafale jets.”
ACM Dhanoa retired from service on September 30 and was succeeded by ACM Bhadauria.
The former air chief, who served in the force for 41 years, had always maintained that there was no corruption in the Rafale deal. Accusations were made by opposition parties, most prominently by then-Congress president Rahul Gandhi, of the deal being a massive scam, engineered by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who announced his intention to acquire the jets, during his state visit to France in April 2015.
The deal itself was signed in September 2016. On November 14, 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed all review petitions into its December 2018 judgement, stating that no corruption or irregularities were found in the deal.