“New bird in the arsenal of the IAF,” the Indian Air Force tweeted a few hours before the induction
The first batch of five Rafale fighter jets were formally inducted into the Indian Air Force on 10 September, Thursday at the Air Force Station in Ambala. The newly inducted jets were given a water-cannon salute after they performed air maneuvers displaying arrowhead formation with Su-30 and Jaguars.
The event was attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. His French counterpart, Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly was invited as the chief guest for the event. Parly received a ceremonial Guard of Honour on her arrival at Delhi. She met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the Palam Air Force Station before leaving for Ambala.
A ‘Sarva Dharma Puja’ came to be carried out at the Ambala airbase prior to the induction.
Speaking at the event, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh highlighted the importance of Rafale jets at a time when India’s borders suffer from tensions and the kind of situation that’s been created there, in the recent past. He added, “The induction of Rafale into IAF also represents the strong ties between India and France. The strategic ties between our two countries have also strengthened.”
Minister of the Armed Forces of France Florence Parly while speaking at the event said, “Today is an achievement for our countries. Together we are writing a new chapter in India-France defence ties. We are fully committed to ‘Make in India’ initiative as well as to the further integration of the Indian manufacturers in our global supply chain.”
Rajanth Singh also presented an induction scroll of Rafale fighter jets to Group Captain Harkeerat Singh, Commanding Officer, 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’ of the Indian Air Force.
The induction of Rafale jets took place days after they were flown to India on July 27, completing a journey of 8,500 km from Merignac in France. They will now be a part of 17 Squadron of the IAF, also known as the Golden Arrows.
Present at the event were IAF Chief RKS Bhadauria, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar. French delegates attending the induction ceremony included, Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain, Air General Eric Autellet, Vice Chief of Air Staff of the French Air Force and Dassault Aviation chairperson Eric Trappier among others.
So far, Dassault Aviation has delivered ten Rafale jets to India. However, five of these are still in France for training the IAF pilots. The delivery of all 36 aircraft is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.