The first five Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale aircraft have arrived at Air Force Station, Ambala. The aircraft got airborne from Dassault Aviation Facility, Merignac, France on the morning of 27 Jul 20 and reached India this afternoon with a planned stopover en-route at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE.

The ferry was planned in two stages and was undertaken by IAF pilots. The aircraft covered a distance of nearly 8500 km from France to India. First stage of the flight covered a distance of 5800 km in seven and a half hours.  French Air Force (FAF) Tanker provided dedicated Air-to-Air Refuelling support during the flight. The second stage of the flight covering over 2700 km was carried out with Air-to-Air Refuelling by IAF Tanker. IAF deeply appreciates the proactive support provided by the French Government and Industry in France to ensure timely delivery. The tanker support extended by French Air Force during the ferry was crucial in ensuring that the long haul flight was accomplished successfully and in a time bound manner.

The aircraft will be a part of 17 Squadron, the “Golden Arrows”, which was resurrected on 10 Sep 19.  The Squadron was originally raised at Air Force Station, Ambala on 01 Oct 1951. 17 Squadron has many firsts to its credit; in 1955 it was equipped with first jet fighter, the legendary De Havilland Vampire. In Aug 1957, the Squadron became the first to convert on to a swept wing fighter, the Hawker Hunter.

A formal induction ceremony of Rafale aircraft in 17 Squadron is scheduled to be held in the second half of Aug 2020. Details of the ceremony will be intimated in due course.

As the first batch of five Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) Rafale jets landed in Ambala air base today, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh in a series of tweets welcomed these by saying, “The Birds have entered the Indian   airspace… Happy Landing in Ambala!”

Rajnath Singh congratulated Indian Air Force (IAF) on professionally executed ferry and said, “I am sure that 17 Squadron, the Golden Arrows, will continue to live upto their motto of ‘UdayamAjasram’. I am extremely happy that IAF’s combat capability has got a timely boost.”

“The touch down of Rafale combat aircraft in India marks the beginning of a new era in our Military History. These multirole aircraft will revolutionise the capabilities of the IAF,” he added in another tweet.

Highlighting the capabilities of the aircraft, Rajnath Singh remarked that, “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.”

Raksha Mantri thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his right decision. “The Rafale jets were purchased only because PM Narendra Modi took the right decision to get these aircraft through an Inter-Governmental Agreement with France, after the long pending procurement case for them could not progress.”

He thanked the French Government, Dassault Aviation and other French companies for ensuring the timely delivery of the aircraft and its weapons, despite the severe restrictions posed by COVID pandemic.

Rajnath Singh added that, “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 added, “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.”

Rajnath Singh shared pictures and videos of the aircraft entering Indian air space.

Earlier, Captain of the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Kolkata welcomed Rafale Arrow Leader in the Indian Ocean by saying, “May you touch the sky with glory.” The five Rafale aircraft escorted by two SU30 MKIs as they entered Indian airspace.

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