Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
The Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) Western Air Command Air Marshal B Suresh welcomed the first five IAF Rafales which arrived at Air Force Station Ambala on Wednesday, 29 July.
The pilots flew over 2,700 km from Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi to Ambala on Wednesday, the Indian Air Force informed in tweets.
"“The 2 stage ferry was undertaken by #IAF pilots covering nearly 8,500 km from France to India. First stage covered 5,800 km in seven and a half hours on 27 July. The support by French Air Force (FAF) for tanker & transit facilities is deeply appreciated by the IAF.”" - Indian Air Force, via Twitter
"“Over 2,700 km of the 2nd stage was flown today from Al Dhafra Air Base, Abu Dhabi to Ambala. On entering the Indian airspace, the Rafales were given an aerial welcome by two IAF Su-30 aircraft. At AF Stn Ambala, they were accorded the traditional ‘Water Cannon Salute’”. " - Indian Air Force, via Twitter
Chief of Air Staff Bhadauria welcomed the pilots, who flew the Rafale jets to Ambala on Wednesday, reported ANI. The five Rafale jets will be part of No 17 Squadron of the Indian Air Force, also known as 'Golden Arrows'.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took to Twitter to share a video of the landing and said that the “birds have landed safely in India.”
The fleet comprises three single-seater and two twin-seater Rafale aircraft.
Video and images of the jets entering the Indian air space earlier in the day were shared by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's office on Twitter.
‘May You Touch The Sky With Glory’: INS Kolkata’s Welcome to Rafale Jets
Soon after taking off from the UAE, the Rafale contingent established contact with Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata, deployed in the Western Arabian Sea, ANI reported.
ANI also shared a conversation between the contingent leader and INS Kolkata:
“INS Kolkata Delta63: Arrow leader (flying Rafale), welcome to Indian Ocean.
Rafale leader: Many thanks. Most reassuring to have an Indian warship guarding seas.
INS Kolkata: May you touch the sky with glory. Happy landings.
Rafale leader: Wish you fair winds. Happy hunting. Over and out.”
Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) had been imposed in four villages closer to Ambala airbase. Gathering of people on roofs and photography during landing was strictly prohibited.
The jets flew out from the Merignac air base in the French port city of Bordeaux and landed at Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates on Monday night.
“Indian Air Force appreciates the support provided by French Air Force for our Rafale journey back home,” the IAF tweeted on Tuesday as it shared pictures of the aircraft en route to India.
India is slated to get 36 such aircraft by the end of 2021.
Defence Minister Congratulates IAF, Dassault Aviation; Takes a Jibe at Oppn
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took to Twitter to congratulate the IAF and Dassault Aviation, and said that the IAF’s capability has gotten a “timely boost”.
Singh also took a veiled jibe at the Opposition, saying that the ones who are critical about the capability of the IAF are the ones who want to “threaten territorial integrity.”
Rafale: The Gamechanger
Rafale would be a game changer in the current scenario when India is facing border tensions with China in Eastern Ladakh. It is being stated that it will increase India's air power manifold.
Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture.
Senior Indian Air Force officers state that China's premier fighter jet Chengdu J-20A is no match to the Rafale’s capabilities, which have been seen in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.
China claims that its J-20 is a 5th generation fighter aircraft, however, it has a 3rd generation engine, said a senior IAF officer questioning stealth capabilities of the aircraft.
China is now going to buy Russian Su35 to match the Rafale jets.
The officer also said that Rafale is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie. However, China J-20 cannot carry out multiple missions in one go.
Further, the Rafale fighter aircraft will have HAMMER missiles. It will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.
The meteor missile in Rafale makes it far more potent than the J-20. The officer also explained that the Rafale engine is better in terms of reliability, longevity and maintainability.
The officer further pointed out that Rafale can lift loads up to 1.5 times its weight, which means it can carry weapons and fuel of far greater capacity than the J-20.
In Western Theatre Command, Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force has deployed 157 fighters and 20 GJ-1/WD-1K precision strike UAVs.
India has deployed 270 fighter aircraft and 68 ground attack aircraft.
(With inputs from IANS.)
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