PM Modi, Rajnath Singh welcome Rafale jets; Amit Shah says historic day

Mid-air refuelling of Rafale Jets on their way to India | Photo: Indian Embassy in France
There is no virtue like protecting the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday as 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" (welcome), he said with the hash tag "RafaleInIndia".

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 in Ambala.

Describing the arrival of five Rafale fighter jets as a historic day for the Indian Air Force and a proud moment for India, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said they are the world's most powerful machines capable of thwarting any challenge in the sky.

In a series of tweets, Shah also said the Modi government is committed to building on India's defence capabilities and added that the world class fighter jets will prove to be a "game changer".

The home minister said the induction of the next generation aircraft is a true testimony of the prime minister's resolve to make India a powerful and secure nation.

Shah also thanked Modi for providing this "unprecedented strength" to the IAF.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said 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.

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.

Taking to Twitter, 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 deter any threat that may be posed on the country.

The Modi government had inked a Rs 59,000-crore deal in 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets from aerospace major Dassault Aviation.

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'.

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