Five French Rafale Fighter Jets Formally Join Indian Air Force's Golden Arrows Squadron
Aakriti Sharma. Sputnik International
06:07 GMT 10.09.2020(updated 06:33 GMT 10.09.2020)
Amid border tensions with China, India has urged France to ramp up the delivery of five Dassault Rafale jets in June, when it was expected to be delayed due to COVID-19. However, France fulfilled its commitment and provided three single-seater and two twin-seater fighter jets by 29 July.
India on Thursday formally inducted five Rafale fighter jets into the 17th Squadron at Ambala Air Station along the western border. The Squadron is known as the "Golden Arrows" and is the first Indian Air Force squadron to be equipped with the Rafales.
Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly were joined by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar at the induction ceremony.
The induction ceremony included the unveiling of the Rafale aircraft and a traditional Sarva Dharma Puja (inter-faith prayer) followed by an air display by Rafale and Tejas aircraft as well as by the Sarang Aerobatic Team. Sarang is the helicopter air display team of the Indian Air Force and they fly four modified HAL Dhruv helicopters.
The new birds in the Indian Air Force arsenal reached India from France on July 29 and have been involved in extensive training exercises, mainly in the mountainous terrain in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh.
The fighter jets, acquired in a government-to-government deal in 2016 at a cost of $8.7 billion, fill the gap for long-range weapons and sensors in the Indian Air Force. Out of the 36 Rafales specified in the deal, India has only received the first batch, and the second batch of four jets is likely to be delivered by October.
The Rafale jets add strategic depth and strength to India's air combat capabilities with their multi-role capacities, including electronic warfare, air defence, ground support, and in-depth strikes.
India's induction of French jets comes in the wake of a border stand-off with China along the 4,057 km Line of Actual Control.
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