The first five Rafale fighter jets that arrived from France on July 29 were formally made part of the Indian Air Force on Thursday at a ceremony held at Ambala Air Force Station. The jets were included in the 17 Squadron and nicknamed as Golden Arrows.
Speaking at the function, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that, given the kind of situation prevailing on the country’s borders in recent days, the induction of the Rafale jets was very important as it enhances the country’s muscle power. “The induction of Rafale into Indian Air Force also represents the strong ties between India and France. The strategic ties between our two countries have also strengthened,” he added.
The ceremony at the base in Ambala included, besides the unveiling of the Rafale aircraft, a traditional ‘Sarva Dharma Puja’, Air Display by Rafale and Tejas aircraft as well as by ‘Sarang Aerobatic Team’. It was followed by the traditional water cannon salute for the fighter jets.
Minister of the Armed Forces of France Florence Parly was also present at the occasion. They both witnessed the air display of Rafale jets flanked by SU-30 and Jaguar aircraft in arrow formation.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria were also present at the ceremony. Later Parly also met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
The French embassy was quoted as saying: “The broad-ranging talks will cover, among others, industrial and technological partnership in line with the Make in India programme; operational defence cooperation, particularly maritime security in the Indo-Pacific; modalities of continuing the armed forces’ joint exercises in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic; counter-terrorism cooperation; as well as major regional and international strategic issues”.