The first group of five Rafale fighter jets bought from France in a multi-billion-dollar deal has landed in India and the defence minister has used their arrival to launch a veiled warning to neighbouring China over territorial tensions. In what was seen as a veiled threat to China, Singh added, "If anyone should be anxious about this new capability of the Indian Air Force, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity". The IAF received the Rafale jets 23 years after it imported Sukhoi-30 Ks from Russian Federation in 1997. They were also greeted by INS Kolkata's Destoyer class ship in the Arabian sea.
Though the jets are being inducted into the IAF on Wednesday, there will be a formal ceremony in mid-August to welcome them into the force.
These were the details of the news India gets first French fighter jets amid border dispute with China for this day. All are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2021.
While the first squadron of the Rafale jets will be stationed at Ambala airbase, the second one will based at Hasimara base in West Bengal.
Five Rafale jets built by Dassault Aviation took flight from France for India on July 27. The IAF is down to 31 fighter squadrons against the authorised strength of at least 42.
"Happy Landing in Ambala!" tweeted Defence Ministry of India. It has a highly superior sensor, phenomenal warfare capability and air dominance capability.
He said the Rafale delivery marked a new era in India's military history.
Describing the occasion a "proud moment for India", Home Minister Amit Shah said it is a "historic day" for the IAF, noting the Rafale aircraft are the world's most powerful machines capable of thwarting any challenge in the sky. The celebrations and political statements on induction of Rafale are justifiable.
The IAF is also procuring new generation medium-range modular air-to-ground weapon system Hammer to integrate with the Rafale jets.
"I don't think I'm exaggerating: I honestly don't know if an aircraft ferry flight has been this extensively covered in the history of mankind", tweeted Christopher Clary, professor at Albany University in the USA and an expert on South Asian politics, nuclear proliferation and U.S. defence policy. Meanwhile, can Government of India (GOI) answer: Why each aircraft costs Rs 1670 Crores instead of Rs 526 Crores? He also asked why a "bankrupt" businessman was given an offset contract and not the government-run HAL.
The district administration had imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in four villages falling in the vicinity of the airbase. A large number of people had stopped their vehicles on the national highway to catch the glimpse of the Rafale jets. "I would like to urge the residents of Ambala to light up their homes and shops this evening to celebrate a Diwali of the Rafale coming to Ambala", Goyal said.
Currently, the base has two squadrons of the Jaguar combat aircraft and one squadron of the MiG-21 Bison.
Notably, Chief of Air Staff RKS Bhadauria will receive the jets, India's first major acquisition in two decades.