On September 10, the Indian Air Force (IAF) held an induction ceremony at Ambala Airbase for its newly delivered batched of five Dassault Rafale aircraft from France. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, French Defense Minister Florence Parly, Indian Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, and Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria were among the dignitaries who attended the induction ceremony.
The ceremony included a “water cannon salute”, a traditional “sarva dharma puja” (“all faith ritual”), to the Rafale jets, and an aerial display featuring various distinctive and exemplary maneuvers by the aircraft marked their induction into the 17 Squadron of the IAF.
The Sarang aerobatic team comprised of HAL Dhruv helicopters with indigenous light combat aircraft HAL Tejas participated in an aerial display to welcome the new jets into the IAF arsenal.
France has now handed over 10 aircraft to IAF, although five remained in France for training purposes. Made by Dassault Aviation, the Rafale jet is hailed as a .5 generation aircraft with omni-role capabilities. In various modes of mission, the aircraft can perform all sorts of air operations in single sortie with help of advanced sensor fusion and precision standoff hitting weapons.
India made a 7.8 billion euro emergency government-to-government deal with France in 2016 for 36 of the latest variant of Rafale jet to save the dwindling IAF squadron numbers. IAF is operating just 32 squadrons against the sanctioned number of 42 to contain two adversaries at once according to two front war doctrine.
The French deal is the first major procurement of combat aircraft in 23 years after the arrival of Su-30Mki imported from Russia.
The first squadron of Rafale jet is currently based in Ambala Airbase and the second squadron will be based Hasimara base in West Bengal. Out of 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter Rafale C and six will be trainers called Rafale B.
Rafale will be the first major aircraft in IAF to be measured as force multiplier after SU-30MKI.
IAF is preparing to bring another five aircraft to India in the month of October, and after its completion of a squadron, Rafale jet will start its active operation.