Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria received the fleet at Ambala, according to The Indian Express.
Prime Minister Narendra welcomed the landing of the fighter jets with a tweet in Sanskrit. “There is no greater blessing than protecting the nation, protecting the nation is a virtuous deed and protecting the nation is the best Yagna,” a rough translation of the tweet said, according to Hindustan Times. “We have the capacity to touch the sky.”
“The birds have landed safely in Ambala,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted. “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 Indian Air Force.” He also shared a video of the touchdown.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted: “From speed to weapon capabilities, Rafale is way ahead! I am sure these world class fighter jets will prove to be a game changer. Congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, Defence Minister Rajnath Singhji, Indian Air Force and the entire country on this momentous day.”
The Rafale fighter jets were escorted by two Sukhoi Su-30MKI jets as they entered India’s airspace. The five fighter aircraft arrived after covering a distance of 7,000 km with air-to-air refuelling, with a single stop in the United Arab Emirates. It will be officially inducted into the Indian Air Force in the second half of August. Singh and other top military officials are expected to attend the ceremony, according to The Hindu.
“Welcome home ‘Golden Arrows’,” the Indian Air Force tweeted. “Blue skies always.”
Security has been tightened near the Ambala airbase, located around 200 km from the border with Pakistan. Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits the gathering of four or more people, has been imposed in four nearby villages, reported News18.
Visuals posted by the Air Force on Tuesday showed the jets refuelling from a French tanker at a height of 30,000 feet. The jets made a stopover in Al Dhafra in the UAE.
The fleet comprises three single seater and two twin seater aircrafts. They will be inducted into the IAF as part of its No. 17 Squadron, also known as the ‘’Golden Arrows’’, and will be stationed at the Ambala air base.
The Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in over two decades. It comes four years after the Centre signed a deal with France for a total of 36 units, as part of a Rs 59,000-crore agreement.
Delivery had officially started in October when the first jet was handed over to the IAF during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to France. However, the planes remained in France for training of the pilots and mechanics. All the 36 jets are to be delivered by 2022.