5 Rafale fighter jets, first batch from France, land at Ambala air base

Updated: Jul 29, 2020, 16:42 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Ambala

Water salute will be given to the five Rafale fighter aircraft at Ambala air base in Haryana

Rafale fighter jet. Pic/IAF Twitter
Rafale fighter jet. Pic/IAF Twitter

The first five of a batch of French Rafale fighter jets landed at Ambala air base in Haryana on Wednesday, after covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km to join the Indian Air Force fleet.

Chief of Air Staff RKS Bhadauria is at the Ambala air base to receive the Rafale jets. Water salute will be given to the five Rafale fighter aircraft.

The fleet, comprising three single seater and two twin seater aircraft, will be part of the No. 17 Squadron of the Air Force, also known as the ''Golden Arrows'.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted in Sanskrit welcoming Rafale fighter jets in India.

In a series of tweets, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “The Birds have landed safely in Ambala. 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_MCC."

A video posted by the defence minister on Twitter showed the first of five Rafale fighter jets landing at Ambala air base. The 27-second video opens with a shot of the runway with the sound of the Rafale's powerful engines.

India finds itself stretched between the borders with China, where it is locked in an intense standoff, and also with Pakistan, where it is countering incessant cross-border firing from a hostile Pakistan army. Rajnath Singh also said that those who want to threaten India's territorial integrity should be worried about the new capabilities of the Indian Air Force.

The minister also said that the Rafale jets were purchased when they fully met the operational requirements of the IAF. He also rebuffed allegations of getting the Rafale jets by paying dearly to France.

He said, "The baseless allegations against this procurement have already been answered and settled."

"Welcome home 'Golden Arrows'. Blue skies always," the Indian Air Force tweeted with a photo of the Rafales in "Arrow formation".

Earlier, Rajnath Singh had tweeted that the "birds" had entered the Indian airspace.

The last foreign fighters inducted into the Air Force were the Sukhoi-30s from Russia which have now become the mainstay of the Air Force after multiple orders in view of delays in placing orders for new western aircraft.

Key highlights of Rafale fighter jets

  • It's an Omni role aircraft
  • 4th generation fighter jet
  • It's a two-engine aircraft
  • It's top speed is 2,222 km/hour
  • It can go up to 50,000 feet
  • It's rate of climb is 60,000 feet/minute
  • It's operational range is 3,700 km
  • Ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike reach and combat radius is 1600-1700 km
  • Capable for long range standoff mission
  • Equipped with air-to-ground missile system
  • Specifically designed to take off from an extremely cold high altitude region
  • It will also be fitted with the air-to-air beyond visual range interception combat and self-defence missile
  • It can also carry the best long range air-to-land missile
  • It has multi-directional radar system which can detect 40 targets at the same time in a range of over 100 kms
  • It has advance radar warning receiver to identify hostile tracking system a towed decoy system to thwart incoming missile attacks
  • Rafale will ensure that our pilots will not have to cross the border to strike the target that is about 600 km in enemy territory
  • It will get French industrial support for 50 years

After landing, the pilots led by Group Captain Harkirat Singh would meet the IAF chief and brief him about their flying and training in France. The formal induction ceremony of the aircraft would be held later.

A Rs 59,000-crore deal was signed on September 23, 2016, for 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.

(With inputs from ANI)

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