NEW DELHI: Terming the touchdown of first batch of the Rafale combat fighters in Ambala, Haryana on Tuesday as the beginning of a new era in our military history, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the multirole aircraft will revolutionise the capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF). People intending to threaten the country’s territorial integrity should be worried about this new capability.
Rajnath Singh congratulated the Air Force in a series of tweets and said, “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.”
A batch of five Rafale fighter jets, comprising two twin-seater and three single-seater aircraft, were escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKI when they entered the Indian skies. These had flown from Merignac, France on Monday and took a stop at the Al Dhafra airbase, UAE.
Fighters completed the journey of about 7,000 kilometers and were greeted with special water canon salute at their home base. Ambala airbase houses two squadrons of Jaguar fighter aircraft and one of the MiG 21 Bison.
The deal for 36 Rafale fighters was signed in September 2016 at the cost of Rs 59,000 crore. These are the first foreign aircraft to join the IAF after the Sukhois from Russia in last 23 years. These will be part of the 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron.
The arrival of the Rafale multirole jets is seen as filling a critical gap in India’s air combat at the time IAF has deployed its frontline fighters to cater to any eventuality occurring in the Eastern Ladakh where the forces of India and China are in standoff positions at many places.
At present, the number of combat squadrons has dwindled to 30 as against sanctioned strength of 42.
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 Indian Air Force, said Defence Minister.
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.”
Addressing the controversies associated with the deal Minister said, “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.”