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Rafale jets re-fuelled mid-air by French tanker, Section 144 imposed near Ambala air base

The Ambala district administration also prohibited people from flying private drones within the three-km radius of the air base, an official said.

Published: 28th July 2020 07:03 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th July 2020 08:08 PM   |  A+A-

Midair refuelling of one of the five Rafale jets which took off from France on Monday on its way to India. (Photo | IAF)

By PTI

AMBALA: Authorities tightened security and imposed prohibitory orders near the Ambala Air Force Station in Haryana on Tuesday ahead of the arrival of five Rafale jets from France, banning shooting of videos and photography.

The Ambala district administration also prohibited people from flying private drones within the three-km radius of the air base, an official said.

Deputy Commissioner Ashok Sharma said in an order that Section 144, which prohibits assembly of four or more people, has been imposed in the villages adjoining the air base, including Dhulkot, Baldev Nagar, Garnala and Panjkhora.

The jets took off from France on Monday and will arrive at the Air Force station on Wednesday, after covering a distance of 7,000 km with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates.

The fleet comprises three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft, according to an IAF official.

The Ambala deputy commissioner said shooting of videos or taking photographs of the boundary wall of the air base and its adjoining areas will remain strictly prohibited during the imposition of the prohibitory orders.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said Ambala police have taken the necessary measures.

The BJP leader and six-term MLA from Ambala Cantt said the people of Ambala are very enthusiastic and thousands would have come out on the streets to welcome the fighter jets before the touch down had there not been a pandemic.

BJP's Ambala City MLA Aseem Goyal urged to people to light candles in their homes between 7-7:30 pm on Wednesday to welcome the Rafale jets.

Nearly four years ago, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France for 36 Rafale jets under a Rs 59,000-crore deal to boost the IAF's combat capabilities.

The first squadron of the Rafale jets will be stationed at the Ambala air base.

The five Rafales are scheduled to be inducted into the IAF on Wednesday, though a formal induction ceremony would be held later.

No 17 Squadron, the 'Golden Arrows', has been resurrected at the Ambala base to operate the Rafale aircraft.

The resurrection ceremony in September 2019 was presided over by then Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, who had commanded the 17 Squadron during the Kargil conflict in 1999.

The IAF has undertaken major infrastructure upgrades at the Ambala base for the deployment of the first Rafale squadron.

Built in 1948, the air base is located on the east side of Ambala in Haryana and is used for military and government flights.

The air base has two squadrons of the Jaguar combat aircraft and one squadron of the MIG-21 Bison.

Air Force Marshal Arjan Singh was the first commander of the base.

The Mirage fighters that were used for the air strike in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 after the Pulwama terror attack had taken off from here.

On their way to India from France, five Rafale jets were refulled mid-air from a French tanker at a height of 30,000 feet, according to photos released on Tuesday by the Indian Embassy in France.

"Indian Air Force appreciates the support provided by French Air Force for our Rafale journey back home," the IAF tweeted On Monday evening, the Rafales landed at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE after flying for over seven hours, officials said adding it was the only stopover by the jets while flying from France to India.

"Few shots from 30,000 feet! Mid air refuelling of #RafaleJets on their way to #India," the Indian Embassy in France tweeted along with a number of pictures of the jets being refuelled mid-air.

The aircraft are expected to significantly boost the IAF's combat capabilities at a time when India is locked in a tense border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

The IAF has already deployed all its frontline fighter jets in key airbases along the Line of Actual Control, the de-faco border between India and China.

India had inked a Rs 59,000 crore deal on September 23, 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.

The first Rafale jet was handed over to the IAF in October last year during a visit to France by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets 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.

The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.

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.

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