The Indian Air Force (IAF) formally inducted the Rafale aircraft into its 101 Squadron of the Eastern Air Command in the presence of Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria at the Hasimara Air Force Station in West Bengal on Wednesday. The 101 Squadron is the second IAF squadron to be equipped with the Rafale fighter jets. In September last year, the Rafale aircraft were inducted into the 17 "Golden Arrows" Squadron.
Addressing the personnel at the air force station, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said the induction of the Rafale jets at Hasimara was carefully planned, keeping in mind the importance of strengthening the IAF's capability in the eastern sector. India and China have been locked in a border standoff in eastern Ladakh since May last year. In the northeast, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh share borders with China.
The induction event included a fly-past heralding the arrival of the Rafale aircraft at Hasimara, followed by a traditional water-cannon salute, according to a statement issued by the IAF. India has so far received 26 of the 36 Rafale aircraft it has ordered from French firm Dassault Aviation, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
In his speech at Hasimara, the IAF chief recalled the glorious history of the 101 Squadron, which earned it the title of "Falcons of Chamb and Akhnoor". "CAS urged the personnel to combine their zeal and commitment with the unmatched potential of the newly-inducted platform (Rafale)," the IAF said.
Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said he has no doubt that the squadron would dominate whenever and wherever required, and ensure that the adversary would always be intimidated by its sheer presence. "The IAF formally inducted Rafale aircraft into No. 101 Squadron at Air Force Station Hasimara in Eastern Air Command on July 28," the statement said.
Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria presided over the induction ceremony. On arrival, he was received by Air Marshal Amit Dev, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command. The multi-role Rafale jets, built by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, are known for air superiority and precision strikes.
The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, 2020, nearly four years after the country signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. The Rafale jets are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
The Rafale aircraft are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor, a beyond visual range air-to-air missile, and the Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.
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