New Delhi: The Centre is moving forward with the Rafale deal and has issued 25 per cent of the payment due to the French government in the over Rs 59,000 crore deal. This was revealed in a report by news agency ANI. India is procuring 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation in a fly-away condition in a government-to-government deal. (Also read: ‘Hindus Are Innocent, Not Fools,’ Says Uddhav Over Ram Temple, Rafale)

Sources told the news agency the plane delivery schedule was on track and the Indian Air Force is expected to get the first aircraft in September 2019. The jets would be put to extensive testing by Indian pilots to evaluate the India-specific enhancements.

“More than 25 per cent of the payments have been made to the French government for the deal as part of the contractual terms and conditions of the project. The amount of the payment is being paid to the French government as the contract is government to government,” ANI reported sources as saying.

The sources added that the first batch of four aircraft to be delivered to the IAF by the middle of 2020 would be equipped with advanced avionics and sensors. The deal to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets was signed during Prime  Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in September 2016. Dassault Aviation is manufacturing 36 advanced fighter jets with India-specific requirements.

The Congress has alleged irregularities in the multi-crore deal. Both the Indian as well as French governments, as also the supplier company Dassault Aviation, have rejected the allegations.

The Supreme Court of India has given a clean chit to the deal, rejecting petitions that sought court-monitored CBI probe into the deal. The Indian Air Force has also spoken highly in favour of the Rafale fighter jet deal, saying it urgently needs combat planes.