The first batch of five Rafale fighter aircraft arrived at the Ambala airbase on Wednesday afternoon after two days after the contingent flew out of France for India. The planes landed at the airbase in Ambala in the northern state of Haryana amid tight security on Wednesday.
The jets, piloted by IAF officers, took off from Merignac in southwest France on Monday. Spectacular visuals posted by the Air Force yesterday showed the jets refueling from a French tanker at a height of 30,000 feet.
Police and soldiers closed roads leading to the base, banned photography and enforced restrictions on gatherings of more than four people, police officer Abhishek Jorwal said.
“The birds have landed safely in Ambala,” India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also welcomed the arrival of the Rafales on Wednesday..
Rajnath also credited PM Narendra Modi for taking a timely decision to purchase the aircrafts in 2016 that had led to a huge controversy, especially after the Congress rested its campaign for the 2019 General elections around the allegation that India had bought overpriced fighter jets. The government, however, fought it out, defending the deal in the Supreme Court and campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections. It won.
The Rafales are finally home nearly four years after India and France inked an inter-governmental agreement to supply 36 of the multi-role jets to the Indian Air Force under a Rs 59,000-crore deal.