5 Rafale fighter jets touch down at IAF Ambala airbase
The first set of five Rafale fighter jets landed in Haryana’s Ambala airbase of the Indian Air Force on Wednesday afternoon. The fleet piloted by IAF officers took off from the Merignac in southwest France on Monday and it touched down the Ambala airbase. It was received by Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria at the airbase. The fleet, which included three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft, was escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKIs after covering a distance of 7,000 km. The jets took a single stop at the Al Dhafra in the UAE and were refueled from a French tanker in the air at a height of 30,000 feet.
As per media reports, the aircraft will be officially inducted into the Indian Air Force in the second half of August.
Rafale touchdown is a historic day for our vigorous @IAF_MCC and a proud moment for India!— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) July 29, 2020
These are the world's most powerful machines capable to thwart any challenge in the sky. I am sure Rafale will help our Air warriors to safeguard our skies with its mighty superiority. pic.twitter.com/wTsK0XYcIX
Ahead of the arrival of the fighter jets from France, security was tightened in the areas surrounding the Ambala airbase, which is located approximately 200 km from the border with Pakistan. In addition, Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was imposed in nearby areas to prevent the gathering of four or more people for security purposes.
The Rafale jets have come to India almost four years after the Modi government 1.0 signed a deal with France. According to the (approximately) Rs 58,000 crore agreement signed in September 2016, France will be delivering a total of 36 units of Rafale fighters jets. Reportedly, all the 36 Rafale jets, manufactured by French firm Dassault Aviation, are scheduled to be delivered to India by 2022.
According to a statement by the Indian Embassy in France, the delivery of ten aircraft has been completed on schedule, adding that five jets will stay back in France for further training.
“Further batches of IAF personnel will continue the training over the next nine months. Delivery of all 36 aircraft would be completed as per schedule by end 2021,” the statement added.
In October 2019, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited France for the 2nd India-France ministerial-level annual defence dialogue. During his visit, he took the formal delivery of the first Rafale jet built for India. Meanwhile, IAF pilots have been undergoing training on the jets in France.
The state-of-the-art 4.5 Generation Rafale jets are going to revive the Number 17 Golden Arrows squadron of the Indian Air Force. The jet can reach almost double the speed of sounds and with its multi-role capabilities, it will significantly increase IAF’s air defence superiority. Equipped with some of the most advanced Meteor air-to-air missiles and Scalp cruise missiles, each aircraft contains 14 storage stations for arms and weapons.
Amid the ongoing tensions between China and Pakistan, the arrival of the Rafale multi-role aircraft will boost the strength and prowess of the IAF.