Deccan Chronicle

Indian Air Force welcomes ‘new bird in the arsenal’

Induction sends message to those who challenge sovereignt­y: Rajnath


Indian Air Force on Thursday formally inducted Rafale fighter aircraft in its Squadron no. 17 or Golden Arrows at its first home base Ambala Air Force Station, one of the oldest air bases in the country.

The induction of Frenchmade Rafale jets comes at a crucial juncture when India is involved in a four months tense military stand-off with China that has escalated in the last few days.

Speaking at the ceremony, defence minister Rajnath Singh said that the induction of Rafale aircraft sends a strong message to those who challenge India’s sovereignt­y.

“It’s induction is a big and bold message to the whole world, especially to those who are eyeing our sovereignt­y. This induction is especially important because of the existing situation at our borders, which if I put in simple words has been created in the last few days. We fully understand that with the changing times we will also have to keep preparing ourselves,” said Mr Singh.

French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly, CDS Gen Bipin Rawat and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria were also present during the ceremony.

IAF chief said that since the first five aircraft touched down at Ambala in July from France, the squadron has “been really busy and in an overdrive to operationa­lise.”

Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said that Rafale aircraft have conducted bombing practice of its advanced weapons and flown into “our operationa­l environmen­t”.

“Within this time they have already flown and familiaris­ed in our operationa­l environmen­t and have undergone intense integrated training with other combat fleets including firing of advanced weapons,” he said.

He said that the formal ceremony on Thursday also marks their full operationa­l induction of their aircraft into the IAF.

“They are good to go and deliver,” said IAF chief.

In a tweet, the IAF welcomed the “new bird” into its arsenal.

Defence minister congratula­ted the Air Force for their “prompt action” near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) during the unfortunat­e events alongside the border with China.

“The way the IAF has positioned its assets at the forward bases it creates confidence that our Air Force is fully prepared to carry out its operationa­l duties. IAF plays an important role in maintainin­g military deterrence and your actions will be decisive in any future war. While on the one hand, the existing situation at our land borders has caught our attention, we must not oversee the danger posed by sponsored terrorism,” Mr Singh said. “You are all

aware of the security challenges at our northern borders. In conditions like this for the protection of our country and values, we need to be prepared. Our alertness is the first step towards our safety,” he said.

Mr Singh said that the induction of Rafale aircraft will give a new shine to the 17 Squadron and urged them to stay “active like a storm and keep protecting the unity and sovereignt­y of the country.”

Before the ceremonial unveiling of the Rafale, a traditiona­l ‘Sarva Dharma Puja’ was performed.

There was an Air Display by Rafale and Tejas aircraft as well as by ‘Sarang Aerobatic Team, followed by a traditiona­l water cannon salute to the Rafale aircraft. After the ceremonial events the Indian and French delegation­s also had a bilateral meeting.

French defence minister said the induction of Rafale into the IAF is a symbol of strong ties between the two countries which is rock solid and time tested. She said now, in military terms, India will acquire a world class capability that will give New Delhi incredible sovereignt­y and in strategic terms it will give India an edge over the entire region to defend itself. She also assured timely delivery of the 31 remaining aircrafts. She also reiterated her country’s support to the candidatur­e of India for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

In 2016, India had signed a `59,000 crore deal for 36 Rafales which will be based in Ambala and Hasimara (West Bengal) air bases. The 4.5 generation fighter aircraft, capable of carrying nuclear weapons provides IAF

unmatched air superiorit­y in the region with its advanced avionics and deadly weapon package which include Meteor, Scalp and HAMMER missiles. Rafale jets give India an edge over China and Pakistan as it is armed with the most advanced beyond visual range Meteor air-to-air missiles which have a range of upto 150 kilometers.

Meteor has the ability to chase down and destroy agile hostile fighters at even the furthest of ranges and has a noescape zone many times greater than any other airto-air missile.

Both Pakistan and China Air Force don’t have a missile to counter it. These Meteor air-to-air missiles will prove deadly during a dogfight. Rafale will also be armed with Scalp cruise air to surface missiles, which have a range of over 300 kilometers.

 ?? -PTI ?? IAF pilots board a Rafale fighter aircraft during its induction into the IAF fleet at the Ambala air base.
-PTI IAF pilots board a Rafale fighter aircraft during its induction into the IAF fleet at the Ambala air base.

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