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Did Pakistani Pilots Train On French Rafales?

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Indian media NDTV outlet claimed that Pakistani exchange pilots were sent to France by Qatar in 2017 to train on Rafale fighter jets after Qatar had signed a deal with France for the procurement of Rafales, the first of which was delivered to Qatar in February this year.

According to aironline.com, described by NDTV as an independent media firm which focuses on the aviation sector, “the first batch of pilots trained for Qatar in November 2017 were Pakistani exchange officers.”

The rumours came as a shock to many Indians, especially after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deal with France for Rafale jets has come under criticism for ‘wrongdoings’.

After the dog fight between Pakistan and India in February, during which Pakistan shot down the intruding Indian jet, Modi had said that “if we had the Rafales, this would not have happened”.

French Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler, however, dismissed the aironline report calling it ‘fake news’. He said that the French authorities have cross-checked the information and can confirm that ‘Pakistani pilots did not train on Rafales’.

NDTV said Pakistani military personnel have been deputed to operate with the armed forces of several Middle Eastern countries for decades.

In January 2018, there were reports that Commander of the Qatar Emiri Air Force visited the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Headquarters in Islamabad. Air Chief had reportedly guaranteed full cooperation in the field of aviation and military training to Qatar.

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