Boost for IAF’s firepower as 5 Rafale fighter jets formally inducted into ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron

In a major boost for the Indian Air Force (IAF), five high-profile Rafale fighter aircraft were formally inducted into the IAF’s famous 17 Squadron, the ‘Golden Arrows’, at the Ambala airbase in Haryana on Thursday (September 10). 

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart Florence Parly were the chief guests for the event, which was also attended by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and several other senior officers of Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces.

The first batch of five incoming Rafale fighter jets landed at the Ambala Air Force base around 3.14 PM on July 29, 2020, amid a ceremonial welcome and unprecedented security. The fleet of five jets comprises three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft.

Nearly four years ago, India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafale jets under a Rs 59,000-crore deal to boost the IAF’s combat capabilities.  The aircraft 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.Of the 36 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. The IAF has undertaken major infrastructure upgrades at the Ambala base for the deployment of the first Rafale squadron.

Built in 1948, the airbase is located on the east side of Ambala and is used for military and government flights. The airbase has two squadrons of the Jaguar combat aircraft and one squadron of the MIG-21 ‘Bison’. Air Force Marshal Arjan Singh was the first commander of the base.

The Rafale aircraft will give India a strategic advantage in case of any aerial combat with China in the mountainous Tibet region as the fleet will be able to use the terrain to its advantage, destroy enemy air defence and incapacitate the surface-to-air missiles, former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal (retd) BS Dhanoa had said to news agency PTI in August.

Dhanoa, known as the architect of the Balakot strikes, had said the Rafale jets along with S-400 missile systems will give the Indian Air Force a major combat edge in the entire region and that India’s adversaries will think twice before starting a war with it.

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