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Indian Air Force activates second Rafale squadron at Hasimara airbase

India's Dassault Rafale fighter jets. (Indian Air Force/Released)
August 04, 2021

The Indian Air Force (IAF) officially activated its second Rafale fighter squadron on Wednesday when formally inducted jets into the No. 101 Squadron at Air Force Station Hasimara in West Bengal.

As of early August, 26 Rafale jets have been inducted. The jets were inducted in eight separate batches, with the most recent taking place in July.

“Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, CAS formally inducted Rafale aircraft into No. 101 Sqn at AFS Hasimara in Eastern Air Command (EAC) on 28 Jul. The event included a flypast and a traditional water cannon salute,” the IAF tweeted.

The squadron, known as “Falcons of Chamb and Akhnoor,” was established May 1, 1949, at Palam. Harvard, Spitfire, Vampire, Su-7, and MiG-21M aircraft have all been operated by the squadron in the past. The squadron actively participated in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.

The No.17 Golden Arrows squadron — the first for the Rafale aircraft — is based at Ambala and now has a total of 18 Rafale fighters.

The IAF inducted its first five Rafales jets in September 2020 of an expected 36 jets contracted under the €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement signed in September 2016 with 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE).

India deployed Rafale fighter jets at the eastern front with China in Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet’s trijunction ahead of the recent high-level India-China talks on July 31.

Ten more Rafale fighters remain to be delivered from the contracted 36, and those are expected to be delivered from France to India in at least two batches before April 2022.