In a historic turn of events, the first batch of 5 Rafale jets entered the Indian airspace on Wednesday. The jets landed at the Ambala airbase after their long journey from France.
The fleet, consisting of 5 jets, landed at the Al Dhafra airbase in UAE on Monday. That was the only layover before heading to India all the way from France. Two Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter planes escorted the jets to the Ambala airspace. The jets were refuelled mid-air from a French tanker.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted out the news. "The five Rafales escorted by 02 SU30 MKIs as they enter the Indian air space. @IAF_MCC" wrote Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.
"The touch down of Rafale combat aircraft in India marks the beginning of a new era in our Military History. These multi-role aircraft will revolutionalise the capabilities of the IAF," added Rajnath Singh.
The 5 jets are the first batch from a contingent of 36 Rafale jets from France that will join the IAF. The jets are to boost the IAF's combat capabilities.
Section 144 CrPC was enforced in 4 villages close to the Ambala airbase. Gathering on roofs and photographing the landing of the jets was strictly prohibited.
PM Modi tweeted out a Sanskrit verse to welcome the jets. PM Modi wrote, " राष्ट्ररक्षासमं पुण्यं, राष्ट्ररक्षासमं व्रतम्, राष्ट्ररक्षासमं यज्ञो, दृष्टो नैव च नैव च।। नभः स्पृशं दीप्तम्... स्वागतम्! #RafaleInIndia.”
The 5 jets are the first batch of western-made jets to join the Indian Air Force in 23 years.