The Indian Air Force (IAF) has formally inducted Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jet into operational service in a ceremony held at Air Force Station (AFS) Ambala.
The induction ceremony featured a flypast with a single Rafale accompanied by two IAF Sepecat Jaguars and two SU-30 MKIs in arrowhead formation.
India’s indigenous Tejas LCA also made a flypast and was followed by an aerobatic display by the ‘Sarang’ helicopter display team with the Dhruv Helicopter.
The induction of the newest combat aircraft to enter IAF service took place in the presence of French Defence Minister Florence Parly, Minister and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Also present were Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, and the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall RKS Bhadauria. The French delegation also comprised of top executives from Dassault Aviation, Thales Group, Safran, and MBDA.
“The induction of Rafale is a strong message for the world and especially for those who challenge India’s sovereignty. The induction is a very important step in light of the prevailing security conditions that prevail, or I would say, that have been created along India’s borders,” said Rajnath Singh.
No. 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows is the first IAF Rafale squadron and presently has three single seat Rafale F3-Rs and two twin-seat Rafale F3-Rs.
“Golden Arrows will have the ability to rapidly access areas of our interest. I expect the Golden Arrows to intimidate and dominate wherever deployed,” said Air Chief Marshall Bhadauria.
Five additional aircraft are expected by November and these are presently being used for training of Indian aircrew in France. The delivery of all 36 aircraft ordered in 2016 will be completed by end 2021 on schedule.
Further batches of IAF personnel are to continue training in France over the next seven months.
India’s Rafale’s are equipped with advanced Beyond Visual Range Air to Air METEOR Missiles, short and medium range MICA Air to Air Missiles, precision guided Air to Ground SCALP Missiles and AASM Hammer precision Air to Ground munitions.
The aircraft have already taken part in weapons firing trials in-country.
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