IAF inducts Rafale in Golden Arrows squadron, all eyes now on deployment

Newly arrived Rafale aircraft of IAF stopping in dispersal at Air Force Station, in Ambala.
Amid palpable tension at the Line of Actual Control with China, the Indian Air Force inducted the newly acquired Rafale fighter jets into its fold on Thursday. The jets that flew into India from France on July 29 have been inducted into the Golden Arrows squadron of the IAF at the Ambala airbase. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh without naming China said that the induction of Rafale is a strong message to eyes being raised towards the territorial integrity of India. This induction is especially critical for the atmosphere being created on our borders.

Air Marsha RKS Bhadauria said, "This induction could not have happened at a more opportune time considering the security situation today. The aircraft has already flown and familiarised with the operational needs and Rafale are good to go and deliver."

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The IAF had recently resurrected the Golden Arrows squadron, which was originally raised at Air Force Station, Ambala on Oct 1, 1951. The 17 Squadron has many firsts to its credit; in 1955 it was equipped with the first jet fighter, the legendary De Havilland Vampire.

First batch of five Rafale combat jets arrived in India on July 29. | Photo: @DefenceMinIndia

Ahead of the official induction, the Rafel performed aerobatic maneuvers including a high-speed flypast, an inverted sequence, and the iconic vertical charlie. This was followed by an aerial display by indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas over the airbase along with the Sarang arobatic team.  

With the induction complete all eyes will be on the first deployment of the medium multi-role combat aircraft, likely along the international border. The event during the day was attended by India and French defense ministers signalling greater cooperation between the two nations. 

The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. Ten Rafale jets have been delivered to India so far and five of them stayed back in France for imparting training to IAF pilots. The delivery of all 36 aircraft is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.

IAF Rafale aircraft touching down at Air Force Station Ambala on its arrival after covering a distance of nearly 8500 km from France to India.

The second batch of four to five Rafale jets is likely to arrive in India by November.

The Rafale jets, known for air-superiority and precision strikes, are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.

"Rafale is a gamechanger in national security scenario for India as the aircraft offers high-speed maneuverability, landing and multi-role capability that equips it with precise action against enemies. The aircraft will revolutionise the capabilities of the IAF." 

The Rafale jet is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. 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.

Rafale aircraft being presented a water cannon salute to mark its induction in Indian Air Force, at Air Force Station in Ambala.

Meteor is a next-generation beyond visual range 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.

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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