A formal induction ceremony of five Rafale fighter jets into the Indian Air Force (IAF) is scheduled to be held at Ambala airbase in Haryana on September 10, confirmed by Ministry of Defence. If reports are to be believed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to be present in the ceremony. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and the entire top military brass of the country will also present in the event to witness the induction of the five Rafale fighter aircraft into the IAF's 'Golden Arrows' Squadron.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly is expected to visit India to attend the ceremony. Apart from this, bilateral talks are also likely to be held with her Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh on further boosting strategic ties. National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval will also meet Parly.
About Rafale Aircraft
The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. The jets are yet to be formally inducted into the IAF. Ten Rafale jets were delivered to India so far and five of them stayed back in France for imparting training to IAF pilots. The delivery of all 36 aircraft is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. A second batch of four to five Rafale jets are likely to arrive in India by November.
The Rafale jets, known for air-superiority and precision strikes, are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 year after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia. The Rafale jet is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons.
European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.
About Ambala Airbase
Ambala air force station is considered as one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from there.
The Mirage fighters, that were used for the air strike in Balakot in Pakistan, which happened on February 26 last year in wake of Pulwama terror attack, had took off from the Ambala air base.