New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday clarified that he meant that if Rafale was acquired in time it would have made a difference during the dogfight between MiG-21 Bison and F16 which had intruded into Indian airspace. “What I said was if we had Rafale at the time (of aerial dogfight), then none of our fighter jets would have gone down and none of theirs saved,” said the Prime Minister while addressing a gathering in Jamnagar.
On why the MiG-21 Bison used in the dogfight with Pakistan’s intruding aircraft, IAF chief asserted the aircraft was in the IAF’s inventory and when an adversary attacks you, every available aircraft goes. “The MiG 21 Bison is in our inventory, why not use it?...I will not comment on the ongoing operation because they are still ongoing. MIG-21 Bison is capable. It has been upgraded... It has got a better weapons system, better radars, better air-to-air missiles,” he said.
The Rafale jet should come into India’s inventory by September, the Air Force chief said.
“Yes, we have a plan for inducting new aircraft and that is why we have signed contract for 36 Rafale jets.”
The IAF chief told reporters the Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would fly a fighter jet if he was fit. “We don’t take chances with the medical fitness of a pilot,” he said.
Varthaman, who ejected from his MiG-21 Bison on February 27, was captured by Pakistan and released on March 1.
“Whether he flies again or not depends upon his medical fitness. Post-ejection, he has undergone a medical check. Whatever treatment is required, we will give it to him. Once he gets the medical fitness, he will get into fighter cockpit,” he said.
The IAF chief further said “If he is fit to fly a fighter, then he will go back soon. If he is not fit to fly, he will become a low medical category till the time he gets his currency. He will then go back when he gets his fighter currency back.”...