On July 29, 2020, Forty-six months after the €7.87 bn (Rs 59,000 crore) Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), that was signed between India and France in September 2016, the first five of 36 Rafale fighter jets, from France were landed in Ambala in Haryana after covering a distance of nearly 8500 km to join the Indian Air Force (IAF). The five aircraft include two twin seater trainer aircraft and three single seat fighter aircraft. These fighter jets are manufactured with 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE), by Dassault Aviation, a french company.
- The five jets (2 twin seater & 3 single seater) took off from the Bordeaux-Merignac airbase in Bordeaux in South France and made their first stopover at a French base in Al Dhafra, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on their way to India.
- As the jets entered the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), stealth destroyer INS (Indian Naval Ship) Kolkata, deployed in the Western Arabian Sea, as a part of welcoming procedure.
- The Rafale fighters were escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKIs (Modernizirovannyi, Kommercheskiy, Indiski) after they entered the Indian air space, and were given a water salute when they landed in Ambala.
- Notably, Rafale is the first imported fighter to be inducted into Service since the Sukhoi-30s from Russia in the late 90s.
Ahead of the arrival of the jets, Section 144 (power to issue order in urgent cases of the nuisance of apprehended danger) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 was imposed around Ambala Cantonment to prevent large gatherings and prohibit any photography or video-recording of air-base.
Pilots who flew the Rafale fighter:
The five jets were flown by pilots of the 17 Golden Arrows led by Commanding Officer Group Captain Harkirat Singh along with Wing Commander Manish Singh, Wing Commander Abhishek Tripathi, Wing Commander Sidhu, Wing Commander Arun & Rohit Kataria.
- IAF pilots and technicians have already trained extensively on the jets in France as part of the contract and the training would continue there for another nine months.
Points to be noted:
-The Ambala airbase also houses two squadrons of the Jaguar fighters and one squadron of MiG-21 Bison.
-Hasimara in West Bengal will house the second Rafale squadron.
Recent Related News:
For the 1st time India & France conducted joint patrol from the Reunion Island in February 2020 by P-8I aircraft with French Navy personnel to maintain the security of international maritime routes for trade and communications.
About Indian Air Force (IAF):
Chief of the Air Staff (CAS)– Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria
Headquarter– New Delhi