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Rafale in India: All Five Rafale Fighter Jets land at Ambala air base

Rafale in India: The pilots of the much-awaited first batch of Rafale aircraft from France were received by Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. 

Jul 29, 2020 20:13 IST
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Rafale in India: All five Rafale combat aircraft landed at the Ambala air base in India at around 3 pm on July 29, 2020.  The aircraft were welcomed in India with a water cannon salute. The pilots of the much-awaited first batch of Rafale aircraft from France were received by Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria. 

The Union Defence Minister confirmed the same through a series of tweets, the first of which read that the birds have landed safely at Ambala.

The Defence Minister further tweeted saying that the touchdown of Rafale combat aircraft will mark the beginning of a new era of India's Military history. He stated that these multirole aircrafts will revolutionise the capabilities of the Indian Air Force.

The Defence Minister congratulated the IAF on a professionally executed ferry. He praised the 17 Squadron, the Golden Arrows, saying that they will continue to live upto their motto of "Udayam Ajasram". He also thanked the French Government, Dassault Aviation and other French companies for ensuring the timely delivery of the aircraft, despite the severe restrictions posed by COVID pandemic.

The five Rafale combat jets had entered the Indian air space less than an hour ago, escorted by 02 SU30 MKIs. This was confirmed by both the Indian Air Force and the Defence Minister. The Indian Air Force had tweeted saying, "Welcome home 'Golden Arrows'. Blue skies always." The IAF tweet further read that the arrow formation of Rafales was given a ceremonial welcome by SU-30s.

The Rafale contingent reportedly established contact with INS Kolkata, which is deployed in Western Arabian Sea.

The Rafale combat aircraft had taken off from Al Dhafra base in UAE at around 11 am IST and are expected to land in Ambala around 2 pm. Section 144 has been imposed in four village around the Ambala air base. A ban has also been imposed on photography and videography and gathering of people on rooftops. 

The IAF has also prepared a backup base for the arrival of the aircraft in case of weather issue in and around Ambala. The backup base would be the Jodhpur air base.

Security Arrangements in Ambala: Ban on Photography, gathering on roofs

•  The Ambala district administration is on high alert and it has banned gathering of people on roofs and prohibited photography during the landing of the combat aircraft. 

•  The administration has imposed a strict prohibition on pictures of the Ambala air base from places including Garnala, Panjokhara, Dhulkot and Baldev Nagar. 

•  The Ambala Cantt area has also been made a no-drone' area as it is a sensitive zone. The administration will take strict action against those violating the no photography orders.

•  The police has informed local residents not to gather on roof tops and take photographs between 10 am-5 pm on July 29, 2020.

Rafale combat jets take off from France

Five Rafale Fighter jets took off from France today, on July 27, 2020 to join the Indian Air Force fleet in Ambala, Haryana on July 29th. They were flagged off by the Indian Ambassador to France from an airbase in Merignac in France.

The Indian Ambassador to France, Jawed Ashraf met and interacted with the crew piloting the fighter jets. The aircraft were refuelled once midair by a French Air Force tanker aircraft while they are on their way to an airbase in the UAE before leaving for India. 

Significance

The Rafale Fighter jets will add strategic depth and strength to India's air combat capabilities. The fighter jets armed with the long-range Meteor air to air missiles and SCALP would give India the much-needed edge over both Pakistan and China in terms of air strike capability.

Also read: Rafale Combat Aircraft: Everything you need to know!

Key Details 

•  The Five Rafale Fighter jets were flown to India by a crew comprising seven Indian Air Force pilots including the commanding officer of the 17 Golden Arrows squadron.

•  All the pilots had received prior training on the aircraft from French company Dassault Aviation as a part of the agreement signed between India and France in 2016. 

•  The five Rafale aircraft include 3 single-seater and 2 twin-seater jets. The aircraft were flown to India in two stages. .

•  The aircraft made their first stopover at a French base in the United Arab Emirates on their way to India. They were refuelled by a French Air Force tanker aircraft midair over the sea around Greece or Israel before landing in UAE.

•  After the stopover at UAE, the aircraft proceeded towards Ambala in India and landed safely in the afternoon of July 29th.  

•  The second stage of the flight of the five Rafale aircraft, which covered 2700 km, was carried out with mid air refuelling by the Indian Air Force IL-78 tanker aircraft. 

•  The trainers will have the RB series tail numbers to honour Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria who played an important role in finalising the Rafale deal between India and France.

Background 

The Indian government had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with France in September 2016 to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition for €7.8 billion. The deal is termed as the biggest-ever in monetary terms in India.

The first Rafale fighter jets were earlier supposed to be delivered by 2019. Later the delivery date was pushed to May 2020 and it was postponed again by two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Rafale aircraft will be made fully operational within days of landing in India. The fighter jets are able to undertake any type of mission including air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, close air support, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The fighter aircraft is considered to be one of the most potent combat jets globally.

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