Escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKIs, 5 ‘Golden Arrows’ land at Ambala
THERE is no virtue like protecting the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday as he welcomed the first batch of five Rafale jets which landed in Ambala with a tweet in Sanskrit. He also shared a brief video of a Rafale fighter aircraft landing at the Ambala Air Force station. Broadly translated, the Prime Minister said in his tweet that there is no virtue like protecting the nation, there is no vow like defence of the nation.“Swagatam”, he said with hash tag “RafaleInIndia”.
INDIA on Wednesday received its first batch of new multirole combat fighter aircraft in nearly two decades with the arrival of five Rafale jets, giving the country’s air power a strategic edge in the midst of a bitter border row with China in eastern Ladakh. The aircraft, having an undisputed track record and considered one of the most potent combat jets globally, landed at the Ambala Air Force base at around 3:10 pm after covering a distance of 7,000 km from the Merignac airbase in Bordeaux, France. The Rafales were escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKIs after they entered the Indian air space and were given a water salute when they landed here.
The NDA Government had inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal on September 23, 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime. 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 that 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. Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden. The Meteor is powered by a unique rocket-ramjet motor that gives it far more engine power for much longer than any other missile, said an official.
Though the jets are being inducted into the IAF on Wednesday, there will be a formal ceremony in mid-August to welcome them into the force. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and top military brass of the country are expected to attend the event. The fleet landed at Al Dhafra airbase on Monday in the UAE after flying for over seven hours from the Merignac airbase. It was the only stopover by the jets while flying from France to India. The jets were also refuelled mid-air from a French tanker at a height of 30,000 feet, according to the Indian Embassy in France.
Beginning of new era in India’s military history, says Rajnath
THE arrival of five Rafale jets will make the Indian Air Force much stronger to deter any threat facing India and those wanting to threaten the country’s territorial integrity should be worried about its new capability, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said. The remarks are largely seen as a veiled message to China with whom India is locked in a bitter border row in eastern Ladakh. China has significantly enhanced deployment of its fighter jets and other aerial assets around its key bases in the region. Singh said that the touchdown of Rafale jets in India marks the beginning of a new era in India’s military history, adding the fleet will make the IAF much stronger to deterany threat that may be posed on the country. “I would like to add, if it is anyone who should be worried about or critical about this new capability of the Indian Air Force, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity,” he said.
“This aircraft has very good flying performance and its weapons, radar and other sensors and Electronic Warfare capabilities are amongst the best in the world. Its arrival in India will make the IAF much stronger to deter any threat that may be posed on our country,” the defence minister said in a series of tweets. “The Rafale jets were purchased when they fully met the operational requirements of the IAF.
The baseless allegations against this procurement have already been answered and settled,” he said, referring to Congress’s accusations of financial wrongdoings in sealing the deal. He also congratulated the IAF on bringing the aircraft from France. “I am sure that 17 Squadron, the Golden Arrows, will continue to live up to their motto of ‘Udayam Ajasram’. I am extremely happy that IAF’s combat capability has got a timely boost,” he said.
The new fleet will be part of the 17 Squadron of the IAF. World-class fighter jets will prove to be game-changer: Shah: CALLING touchdown of Rafale fighter aircraft at Ambala airbase as “historic day” for Indian Air Force and proud moment for India, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that “world-class fighter jets will prove to be a game-changer”.