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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Thursday, 06 August 2020 4.13 AM IST

Five Rafale jets enter Indian air space, security tightened around air base

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NEW DELHI: In historic moments for the Indian Air Force, the first batch of five Rafale combat jets on Wednesday entered the Indian air space on its way to Ambala airbase from France, officials said.

The fleet landed at Al Dhafra airbase on Monday in the UAE after flying for over seven hours from the Merignac airbase. It was the only stopover by the jets while flying from France to India.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's office said the Rafales are escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKIs after they entered the Indian air space.

The jets were also refuelled mid-air from a French tanker at a height of 30,000 feet.

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria will receive the fleet at Ambala.

The Rafale jets are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in over two decades, and they are expected to significantly boost the Indian Air Force's combat capabilities.

The fleet of five jets comprises three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft

Authorities have imposed prohibitory orders near the Ambala Air Force Station, banning shooting of videos and photography.

The Ambala district administration has also prohibited people from flying private drones within the three-km radius of the air base, officials said earlier.

Section 144, which prohibits assembly of four or more people, has been imposed in the villages adjoining the air base, including Dhulkot, Baldev Nagar, Garnala and Panjkhora.

Ambala deputy commissioner Ashok Kumar Sharma said shooting of videos or taking photographs of the boundary wall of the air base and its adjoining areas will remain strictly prohibited during the imposition of the prohibitory orders.

Meanwhile, the Haryana Police has set up several check barricades and police officers were seen patrolling residential localities near the air base, making announcements over loudspeakers warning people not to stand on the rooftop of their houses to click pictures or shoot videos.

Violators would face punishment as per the law, they warned.

At many places here, hoardings have been erected to welcome the arrival of the fighter jets with some of these mentioning that their induction will further boost IAF's capabilities.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Wednesday said the people of Ambala are very enthusiastic about the arrival of the jets.

This is a very proud and a historic moment for us that the Rafale jets will be stationed in Ambala Cantonment area. Rafales are IAF's 'Sikandar', which will significantly boost our combat capabilities, he said.

He said had there not been the threat of coronavirus pandemic, thousands would have gathered in the streets to welcome the jets.

Nearly four years ago, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafale jets under a Rs 59,000-crore deal to boost the IAF's combat capabilities.

The five Rafales are scheduled to be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday, though a formal induction ceremony would be held later.

The jets will be inducted into the IAF as part of its No 17 Squadron, also known as the 'Golden Arrows'.

The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons.

European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.

Of the 36 jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers.

The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets.

The IAF has undertaken major infrastructure upgrades at the Ambala base for the deployment of the first Rafale squadron.

Built in 1948, the air base is located on the east side of Ambala and is used for military and government flights.

The air base has two squadrons of the Jaguar combat aircraft and one squadron of the MIG-21 'Bison'. Air Force Marshal Arjan Singh was the first commander of the base.

The Mirage fighters that were used for the air strike in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 after the Pulwama terror attack had taken off from here.

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TAGS: FIVE, RAFALE JETS, ENTER, INDIAN AIR SPACE, SECURITY TIGHTENED, AROUND AIR BASE
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