Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday tweeted a video of the touchdown of one of the five Rafale fighter jets at the Indian Air Force’s airbase in Ambala city of Haryana.
The 27-second video of the touchdown showed the jet looming in the horizon before landing safely after covering a distance of nearly 7,000km from the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The Birds have landed safely in Ambala. The touch down of Rafale combat aircrafts in India marks the beginning of a new era in our Military History. These multirole aircrafts will revolutionise the capabilities of the @IAF_MCC,” Singh also posted.
They are the first imported fighter jets to be inducted into the IAF in 22 years after the Russian Sukhoi-30 fighters. The first Su-30 entered IAF service in June 1997. Group Captain Harkirat Singh, a decorated fighter pilot and the commanding officer of the No 17 Squadron, headed the aircrew bringing the Rafales to India.
“I congratulate the IAF on a professionally executed ferry. I am sure that 17 Squadron, the Golden Arrows, will continue to live upto their motto of “Udayam Ajasram”. I am extremely happy that IAF’s combat capability has got a timely boost,” he added.
The first squadron of the aircraft will be stationed at Ambala air force station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.