The birds have landed.

The birds have landed.

5 Rafale jets land safely at IAF airbase in Ambala

Rafale game changer: Shah; BJP leaders scuttled Rafale deal during UPA: Antony

Agency Report | New Delhi | 29 July, 2020 | 11:30 PM

Five of the 36 medium multi-role Rafale fighter jets built by French aircraft manufacturer Dassault landed safely at the IAF airbase in Ambala on Wednesday afternoon. Significantly, the frontline IAF airbase is likely to be used in case of conflict at the northern or the western borders.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in a tweet, “The Birds have landed safely in Ambala.”

“The touchdown of Rafale combat aircraft in India marks the beginning of a new era in our Military History. These multirole aircrafts will revolutionise the capabilities of the @IAF_MCC,” the minister added.

Interestingly, the new additions, the fighter stable of Indian Air Force, are named after current Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria.

Of the two squadrons of the Rafale fighters, one would be based in Ambala for the western borders in Pakistan, while the second squadron would be based Hasimara in West Bengal and will be dedicated for the China border where Indian and Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops are engaged in a border standoff, which left 20 Indian and unknown number of Chinese soldiers dead following a bloody clash on June 15.

The five Rafale jets joined the Indian Air Force on Wednesday and the ones to follow after this will not have the India specific changes that make them more lethal and potent.

The Defence Minister thanked the French Government, Dassault Aviation and other French companies for ensuring the timely delivery of the aircraft and its weapons, despite severe restrictions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He pointed out that the aircraft have very good flying performance and their weapons, radar and other sensors and electronic warfare capabilities are among the best in the world.

“Its arrival in India will make the IAF much stronger to deter any threat that may be posed on our country,” he tweeted.

India finds itself stretched between the borders with China, where it is locked in an intense standoff, and also with Pakistan, where it is countering incessant cross-border firing from a hostile Pakistan army.

Rajnath Singh also said that those who want to threaten India’s territorial integrity should be worried about the new capabilities of the Indian Air Force.

The minster also said that the Rafale jets were purchased when they fully met the operational requirements of the IAF. He also rebuffed allegations of getting the Rafale jets by paying dearly to France.

He said, “The baseless allegations against this procurement have already been answered and settled.”

Soon after the five Rafale fighter jets landed at the IAF airbase in Ambala on Wednesday afternoon, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that these multi-role fighter aircraft will be a game changer.

Shah said he is sure that the induction of the new generation Rafale jets will help the Indian Air Force safeguard India’s sky and thwart any challenge.

In a Twitter message, Shah said the touchdown of Rafale jets marks a historic day for “our vigorous Indian Air Force and is a proud moment for India!”

Calling the Rafale jets the world’s most powerful machines, Shah said these are capable of thwarting any challenge in the sky.

“I am sure Rafale will help our Air warriors safeguard our skies with its mighty superiority,” Shah said.

“Induction of these next generation aircraft is a true testimony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s resolve to make India a powerful and secure nation. The Modi government is committed to build on India’s defence capabilities. I thank honourable PM for providing this unprecedented strength to our IAF,” the Home Minister added.

From speed to weapon capabilities, Shah said Rafale is way ahead. “I am sure these world class fighter jets will prove to be a game changer.”

He congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh as well as the Indian Air Force and the entire country on this momentous day.

Five of the 36 medium multi-role Rafale fighter jets built by French aircraft manufacturer Dassault landed safely at the IAF airbase in Ambala on Wednesday afternoon. Significantly, the frontline IAF airbase is likely to be used in case of conflict at the northern or the western borders.

Expressing happiness over the landing of five Rafale fighter jets at the Ambala air base on Wednesday, former Defence Minister AK Antony said that had it not for been for complaints by two top BJP leaders in 2012, the French aircraft would have come to India when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister.

Setting the record straight, the country’s longest-serving Defence Minister and Congress leader recalled that the discussions on the aircraft first started way back in 2001 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.

“The decision was taken to buy 126 aircraft after the then new-found relations between China and Pakistan came to light. Then it again took shape in 2007 when Singh was the Prime Minister. But when everything was in place to buy 18 Rafales from France and 108 others to be built at HAL in Bengaluru through technology transfer, in 2012, I got a complaint about this deal from two senior BJP leaders. Since I got this complaint, I was in no position to put their complaint in the dustbin,” Antony recalled.

“Thus, the matter got delayed. Had the planned buying gone ahead, thousands of jobs would have been created. But it did not happen. And from 126 aircraft, it has now come down to 36. Now five have come; more are to come later this year and by the end of next year; all the 36 aircraft would be there. Am very happy for the entire defence forces in general and the Indian Air force in particular. I just said this to put the record straight — but for the complaint, this would have happened during the tenure of Manmohan Singh,” Antony said.