5 Rafale jets enter Indian airspace, set to land in Ambala shortly, to join 'Golden Arrows' squadron
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Bolstering the Air Force's combat capabilities, India will receive the Rafale fighter jets today which will be arriving in Ambala on Wednesday afternoon after covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km.
They have entered the Indian airspace and will soon be landing at the Ambala Air Base, reported news agency PTI.
The Ambala administration has sealed roads leading to the Air Force Station till 5 pm and has also barred people from flying private drones within 3-km radius of the air base.
Section 144 has been imposed in four villages closer to the air base, an official said, adding that gathering of people on roofs and photography during landing is strictly prohibited.
The first batch of five jets took off from the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux on Monday. The fleet landed at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE after flying for over seven hours. It was the only stopover by the jets while flying from France to India. The jets were also refulled mid-air from a French tanker at a height of 30,000 feet, according to the Indian Embassy in France.
The Rafale jets are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in over two decades, and they are expected to significantly boost the Indian Air Force's combat capabilities. India had inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal on September 23, 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.
Six Rafale trainer aircraft will carry RB series tail numbers which stand for Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, who played a key role as lead negotiator for the mega deal.
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' on Wednesday afternoon, they said. However, a formal induction ceremony will be held around mid-August which is expected to be attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and top military brass of the country.
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.
Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh was the first commander of the Ambala base in independent India.
The IAF spent around Rs 400 crore to develop required infrastructure like shelters, hangars and maintenance facilities at the two bases
Out of 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets.
(With PTI inputs)
Posted By: Abhinav Gupta