FLASH! Two Rafales Coming To Aero India 2011

This was a rumour doing the rounds for a while. Finally got an official confirmation from Dassault today. Two French Navy Rafales will make their first public Indian appearance at Aero India 2011 next month at the IAF's Yelahanka air force base outside Bangalore. Dassault will also be bringing a Falcon 7X and a Falcon 2000LX.

[@6.00PM IST] The Rafale was seen as something of an underdog in the MMRCA competition for a while, though recent reports have put it on top of the pack in the $11-billion deal for 126 fighter aircraft. Conspiciously closed to the media in India, Dassault's bird has been the least visible of the six contenders in the competition -- a deliberate strategy, it so happens. Its appearance next month outside Bangalore will be the first time the aircraft will be seen in public in India (in September 2009, the aircraft was in India for trials, and was usefully snapped at the time by a single photographer).

Dassault believes that the MMRCA competition is a professional tender, and that flaunting the aircraft (at considerable expense, of course) at an air show in India is an unnecessary exercise. It would therefore be interesting to know what's changed now. Does Dassault smell a win? Clearly the company is convinced that this is the one time that it shouldn't be conservative about displaying their contender.

There's no confirmation yet on the MiG-35, but chances are it'll be there too. So it looks like we're going to have a full line up of all six MMRCA horses in a pretty little courseline at Yelahanka. How sweet would that be.

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