Rafale induction ceremony at Ambala: Indian Air Force Thursday formally inducted Rafale fighter jets in its fleet at Air Force Station Ambala near India’s border with Pakistan. The fighter jet manufactured by Dassualt Aviation of France has officially become a part of the 17th Squadron, the Golden Arrows. Rafale jets were inducted in the presence of Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh and French defence minister Florence Parly and top military leadership of both India and France.
Indian Air Force received the first five Rafale fighter jets at Air Force Station, Ambala on July 27 amid much public excitement.
India received the Rafale jets at a time when Indian Army has been engaged in tense and bloody stand-off with the Chinese Army in eastern Ladakh since April-May this year which also resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and unconfirmed number of Chinese soldiers.
India signed a 7.78 billion euro deal in September 2016 to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition from France in a government-to-government deal to meet the urgent operational needs of the Indian Air Force.
Four more Rafale fighters are expected to join Indian Air Force by October this year.
Rafale fighter joins Indian Air Force
“Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, DRDO Chief G Satheesh Reddy, along with other senior officers of Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces were also present to mark a very important milestone in the history of the IAF,” Indian Air Force said in a statement.
The French delegation was represented by Emmanuel Lenain Ambassador of France to India, Air General Eric Autellet, Vice Chief of the Air Staff of the French Air Force and other senior officials.
A large delegation of top officials of French defence industry, including Eric Trappier Chairman and Chief Executive of Dassault Aviation and Eric Beranger, CEO of missile manufacturer MBDA were present during the ceremony.
Florence Parly Minister of the Armed Forces of France was given a ceremonial Guard of Honour on arrival at Delhi.
At Ambala the program included ceremonial unveiling of the Rafale aircraft, a traditional ‘Sarva Dharma Puja’, Air Display by Rafale and Tejas aircraft as well as by ‘Sarang Aerobatic Team’.
Afterwards, a traditional water cannon salute was given to the Rafale aircraft. The programme culminated with the ceremonial induction of Rafale aircraft to 17 Squadron.
After the ceremonial events the Indian and French delegation held a bilateral meeting.