After completing a 7,000 km journey, five Rafale fighter jets reached the Ambala airbase on Wednesday afternoon. The Rafale fighter jets reached India two days after the contingent flew out of France, with a stop in UAE.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the fleet on his Twitter account with a Sanskrit shloka.
दृष्टो नैव च नैव च।।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 29, 2020
Rajnath Singh congratulates IAF
Defence minister Rajnath Singh posted a video of the fighter jet’s touchdown at the Ambala airbase. He also tweeted: “I congratulate the IAF on a professionally executed ferry. I am sure that 17 Squadron, the Golden Arrows, will continue to live upto their motto of “Udayam Ajasram”. I am extremely happy that IAF’s combat capability has got a timely boost.”
INS Kolkata welcomes Rafale to Indian airspace
The fleet also received a warm welcome as it entered the Indian airspace. Indian Naval warship INS Kolkata in a radio message to the pilots of the Rafale fighter jets said, “May you touch the sky with glory. Happy Landings.”
Sukhoi jets escort Rafale fleet
The fleet consisting of three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft was escorted by two Sukhoi 30 fighter jets as they entered the Indian airspace. Defence minister Rajnath Singh’s office also posted a video of the fighter jets entering the Indian airspace.
Also Read: Indian Air Force gets 5 Rafale jets
The defence minister’s office tweeted: “The five Rafales escorted by 02 SU30 MKIs as they enter the Indian air space.”
— रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) July 29, 2020
Rafale to be inducted in Golden Arrows
The Rafale fighter jets will be officially inducted into the Indian Air Force as part of its No 17 Squadron known as “Golden Arrows”. While the fighter jets were given a water gun salute, a formal induction ceremony will be held around mid-August. The formal induction ceremony will be attended by the defence minister and the top military brass.
Rafale is a major acquisition in over two decades
Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition of fighter aircraft after over two decades. It is expected to significantly boost the capabilities of the Indian Air Force.
Notably, the fighter jets have been delivered after four years of the inter-governmental agreement between Indian and France to supply 36 Rafale jets to India under a Rs 59,000 crore deal.
36 Rafales to be delivered by 2021-end
Out of the 36 aircraft, 10 aircraft have been already delivered by France. While five aircraft have reached India, five have stayed back in France for training of IAF pilots. The delivery of the 36 aircraft will be completed by the end of 2021.
“Delivery of 10 aircraft has been completed on schedule. Five will stay back in France for training mission. The delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021,” the Indian embassy in Paris had said.
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