IAF to induct Rafale jets today: Rajnath Singh, French Defence Minister to be chief guests

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will formally induct the Rafale aircraft today (September 10) at the Air Force Station in Ambala. The aircraft will be part of 17 Squadron, the “Golden Arrows”. The first five IAF Rafale aircraft arrived at Air Force Station, Ambala from France on July 27.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces of France, will be the chief guests at the event. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO along with other senior officers of the Ministry of Defence and armed forces will be present to mark a very important milestone in the IAF’s history.

The French delegation will be represented by Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India, Air General Eric Autellet, Vice Chief of the Air Staff of the French Air Force and other senior officials. A large delegation of senior functionaries of French Defence Industries which includes Mr Eric Trappier Chairman and Chief Executive of Dassault Aviation and Mr Eric Beranger, CEO, MBDA will be present during the ceremony.

Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces of France, will be given a ceremonial guard of honour on her arrival in Delhi.

“The program will include ceremonial unveiling of the Rafale aircraft, a traditional ‘Sarva Dharma Puja’, air display by Rafale and Tejas aircraft as well as by ‘Sarang aerobatic team’,” an IAF spokesperson said, describing the ceremony as a “very important milestone” in the history of the force. 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.

The first five Rafale jets included three single-seaters and two twin-seater jets which arrived in India on July 29, flying from Mérignac in France via the UAE.

The first squadron of Rafale jets will operate from Ambala — one of the most strategically-located airbases that also houses the Jaguars and Mig 21s.

The induction of the jets is considered to be a major boost to India’s air defence.

Ten Rafale jets have been 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.

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