5 RAFALE FIGHTER JETS TOUCH DOWN AT AMBALA AIR BASE, RECEIVE ‘WATER SALUTE’
Amidst a majestic welcome, the five Rafale fighter jets landed at Haryana’s Ambala air base for induction into the ‘Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron of the Indian Air Force.
This is the first batch of 36 Rafale fighter jets for which India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in 2016 for Rs 58,000 crore.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh confirmed the safe landing of Rafale fighter jets.
Upon touchdown, the fighter aircraft were given the ceremonial ‘water salute’.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted in Sanskrit welcoming the Rafale fighter jets in India along with a video of the touchdown of the aircraft at Ambala.
The jets flew out from the Merignac air base in the French port city of Bordeaux and after covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km landed at Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates on Monday night.
The fleet comprised three single seater- and two twin seater- aircraft.
The final induction ceremony will take place in the second half of August 20.
Soon after taking off from the UAE, the Indian Rafale contingent established contact with Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata, deployed in the Western Arabian Sea.
“Welcome to the Indian Ocean… May you touch the sky with glory,” the Naval warship was heard telling the Rafale commander.
As the five fighter jets entered the Indian airspace, the Defence Minister’s office tweeted images of the aircraft being given a ceremonial welcome by two Su-30MKIs.
The Indian Air Force tweeted: “Welcome home ‘Golden Arrows’. Blue skies always.”
Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture.
The first Rafale fighter was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in October 2019 in a ceremony attended by the French Minister for Armed Forces Madame Florence Parly and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Delivery of ten 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.
In accordance with the contract, the Indian Air Force pilots and support personnel have been provided full training on the aircraft and weapon systems by Dassault. Further batches of Indian Air Force personnel will continue the training over the next nine months.
India and France have a long history of cooperation in fighter aircraft, which includes India’s acquisition of French Toofanis in 1953, then the Mystere, Jaguar and Mirage.