New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The first batch of five French Rafale fighter jets landed at Ambala airbase this afternoon to join the Indian Air Force. The multi-role fighter jets took off from Merignac airbase in France on Monday and has covered around 7,000 KM to reach India. Chief of Air Staff RKS Bhadauria received the fighter jets, India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in over two decades. The induction of these multi-role fighter jets will significantly enhance IAF's striking capability. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced the arrival of the fighter jets on Twitter. "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" he wrote.

 

Authorities imposed prohibitory orders near the air force station and banned shooting of videos and photography. The Ambala district administration also prohibited people from flying private drones within the three-km radius of the airbase.

This is the first batch from a contingent of 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation as part of a Rs 59,000-crore deal with the French government aimed at boosting the IAF's combat capabilities.

The emergency acquisition was made primarily to check the depleting combat capability of the IAF as the number of its fighter squadrons had come down to a worrying 31 against the authorised strength of at least 42.

The fleet, comprising three single seater and two twin seater aircraft, are being inducted into the IAF as part of its Ambala-based No 17 Squadron, also known as the ''Golden Arrows''.

A government statement on Monday said 10 Rafale jets were delivered to India and that five of them are staying back in France for training missions. The delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021, it added.

The Rafale jets, known for air-superiority and precision strikes, are India''s first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 year after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.

The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA''s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.

The IAF is also procuring new generation medium-range modular air-to-ground weapon system Hammer to integrate with the Rafale jets.

Hammer (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) is a precision-guided missile developed by French defence major Safran. The missile was originally designed and manufactured for the French Air Force and Navy.

 

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Rakesh Kumar Jha