New Delhi/Ambala, Jul 29: The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday inducted a fleet of five France-made Rafale fighter jets into its stable, amid the ongoing border tension with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.
The fighter jets landed at Ambala Air Force Station in Haryana at around 1500 hrs, after covering a total distance of 8,500 km from Merignac Airbase in French port city of Bordeaux on Monday, with a stopover at Al Dhafra airbase in UAE.
”The ferry was planned in two stages and was undertaken by IAF pilots. The aircraft covered a distance of nearly 8500 km from France to India,” IAF Spokesperson Wing Commander Indranil Nandi said.
The first stage of the flight covered a distance of 5800 km in seven-and-a-half hours. The French Air Force (FAF) Tanker provided dedicated Air-to-Air Refuelling support during the flight. The second stage of the flight covering over 2700 km was carried out with Air-to-Air Refuelling by IAF Tanker.
”IAF deeply appreciates the proactive support provided by the French Government and Industry in France to ensure timely delivery. The tanker support extended by French Air Force during the ferry was crucial in ensuring that the long haul flight was accomplished successfully and in a time-bound manner,” he added.
The aircraft will be a part of 17 Squadron, the ‘Golden Arrows,’ which was resurrected on September 10, 2019. The Squadron was originally raised at Ambala Air Force Station on October 1, 1951.
The 17 Squadron has many firsts to its credit; in 1955, it was equipped with first jet fighter, the legendary De Havilland Vampire.
In August 1957, the Squadron became the first to convert on to a swept wing fighter, the Hawker Hunter.
A formal induction ceremony of Rafale aircraft in 17 Squadron is scheduled to be held in the second half of August, 2020.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has welcomed the landing of Rafale fighter jets in Ambala with a tweet in Sanskrit, which refers to the obligation of protecting one’s nation being supreme. The Prime Minister’s tweet came moments after the first batch of five Rafale Jets touched down in Ambala.
”There is no greater blessing than protecting the nation, protecting the nation is a virtuous deed and protecting the nation is the best Yagna. There is nothing beyond this. Touch the sky with glory. Welcome,” a rough translation of his tweet said.