Rafale jets get warm welcome from Indian warship.
New Delhi:- The five Rafales are scheduled to be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday, though a formal induction ceremony would be held later.
Nearly 23 years after Sukhoi aircraft were imported, a fleet of five French-manufactured Rafale multi-role combat jets touched down in India, giving the countrys air power a strategic edge over its adversaries in the neighbourhood.
The aircraft, having an undisputed track record and considered one of the most potent combat jets globally, landed at the Ambala Air Force base after covering a distance of 7,000 km from the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux.
The Rafales were escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKIs after they entered the Indian air space.
“The Birds have landed safely in Ambala,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.
Mr. Singh said “the touch down of Rafale combat aircrafts in India marks the beginning of a new era in our Military History. These multirole aircrafts will revolutionise the capabilities of the IAF“.
Chief of Air Staff RKS Bhadauria will receive the jets when the fleet arrives at the strategically key airbase, officials said.
The fleet, comprising three single seater and two twin seater aircraft, will be inducted into the IAF as part of its No 17 Squadron, also known as the Golden Arrows. However, a formal induction ceremony will be held around mid-August which is expected to be attended by the Defence Minister and top military brass of the country.
Authorities have imposed prohibitory orders near the Ambala Air Force Station, banning shooting of videos and photography.
The Ambala district administration has also prohibited people from flying private drones within the three-km radius of the air base, officials said earlier.
Section 144, which prohibits assembly of four or more people, has been imposed in the villages adjoining the air base, including Dhulkot, Baldev Nagar, Garnala and Panjkhora.
Meanwhile, the Haryana Police has set up several check barricades and police officers were seen patrolling residential localities near the air base, making announcements over loudspeakers warning people not to stand on the rooftop of their houses to click pictures or shoot videos. Violators would face punishment as per the law, they warned.
Hoardings have been erected in many places in Ambala to welcome the arrival of the fighter jets with some of these mentioning that their induction will further boost IAFs capabilities.
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Wednesday said the people of Ambala are very enthusiastic about the arrival of the jets. This is a very proud and a historic moment for us that the Rafale jets will be stationed in Ambala Cantonment area. Rafales are IAFs Sikandar, which will significantly boost our combat capabilities, he said.
He said had there not been the threat of coronavirus pandemic, thousands would have gathered in the streets to welcome the jets.
Nearly four years ago, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafale jets under a Rs 59,000-crore deal to boost the IAFs combat capabilities.
The first Rafale jet was handed over to the IAF in October last year during a visit to France by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
While the first squadron of the Rafale jets will be stationed at Ambala airbase, the second one will based at Hasimara base in West Bengal.
The Ambala base is considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF as the Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from it. Currently, the base has two squadrons of the Jaguar combat aircraft and one squadron of the MiG-21 Bison.