French officials responds over media reports of PAF Pilots being trained on Rafale fighter jets

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French officials responds over media reports of PAF Pilots being trained on Rafale fighter jets

ISLAMABAD - French authorities have denied an Indian media report claiming that Pakistani pilots have trained on Rafale aircraft sold to Qatar.

The French ‘clarification’ came after ainonline.com, described by NDTV as an independent media firm which focuses on the aviation sector reported that “the first batch of pilots trained for Qatar in November 2017 were Pakistani exchange officers”.

According to Jon Lake, the author of the piece, “Escadron de Chasse 04.030 was established at Mont-de-Marsan as the Qatar Rafale Squadron on Oct 1, 2017,” NDTV said.

Referring to the ainonline.com story, Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler was quoted as slamming the report as false. “I can confirm that it is fake news.” French government sources have told NDTV that they have cross-checked details of this article.

Qatar took delivery of its first Rafale at Dassault’s Merignac facility on February 6 this year. In a press statement, Dassault had said Qatar had signed up for 24 Rafale fighters in May 2015.

In December 2017, it ordered an additional 12 fighters. The deal for the first 24 fighters is valued at euro 6.3 billion.

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 the visit of the Commander of the Qatar Emiri Air Force to Pakistan Air Force Headquarters in Islamabad. Pakistan’s Air Chief reportedly “offered support and cooperation in the field of aviation and military training” to his counterpart, NDTV said.