Rafale to go operational in India air force tomorrow

File Photo: Rafale fighter jet from French firm Dassault Aviation.

New Delhi: India will operationalise its new acquisition, the French Rafale fighter jets, at the Ambala air base tomorrow in an induction ceremony.

With this induction into the Indian Air Force, the South Asian giant is announcing to the world, particularly its adversarial neighbours China and Pakistan, that it now has the most advanced combat aircraft in its fleet.

India is currently in a military face-off with China in the Ladakh border for the last over four months since May this year, even as there are heightened concerns on the possibility of Pakistan mounting a simultaneous two-front confrontation in the region.

The induction ceremony will take place at the Air Force Station, Ambala, where it will form part of the No. 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron. The first five Indian Air Force’s Rafale aircraft arrived at Ambala from France on July 27.

India’s Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh and France’s Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly will be present to mark the operationalisation of the Rafale jets.

India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R. K. S. Bhadauria, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary Department of Defence Research and Development and Defence Research and Development Organisation Chairman Dr G. Satheesh Reddy too will witness the very important milestone in the history of the IAF.

The French delegation will also include Ambassador of France to India Emmanuel Lenain and French Air Force Vice Chief of the Air Staff General Eric Autellet. A large delegation of senior functionaries of French defence industry including Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Eric Trappier and European missile maker MBDA‘s Chief Executive Officer Eric Beranger will be present during the ceremony.

Parly will be given a ceremonial Guard of Honour on arrival at Delhi. At Ambala, the programme will include ceremonial unveiling of the Rafale aircraft, a traditional ‘Sarva Dharma Puja’, air display by Rafale and Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, as well as by ‘Sarang Aerobatic Team’.

Afterwards, a traditional water cannon salute will be given to the Rafale aircraft. The programme will culminate with the ceremonial induction of Rafale aircraft to 17 Squadron. After the ceremonial events the Indian and French delegation will have a bilateral meeting.

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