‘Birds have entered Indian airspace’: Rajnath Singh tweets his welcome to 5 Rafales
Defence minister Rajnath Singh tweeted several photographs and a video of the Rafale jets entering Indian air space.Updated: Jul 29, 2020 15:18 IST
The five Rafale aircraft, on their way to the Indian Air Force base in Haryana’s Ambala, were on Wednesday escorted into the Indian air space by Sukhoi fighter jets.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh tweeted several photographs and a video of the Rafale jets entering Indian air space. “The Birds have entered the Indian airspace..Happy Landing in Ambala!” defence minister Rajnath Singh’s office tweeted.
Before this, the leader of the five-jet contingent of Rafale established contact with a warship of the Indian Navy deployed in the western Arabian Sea.
“May you touch the sky with glory. Happy landings,” INS Kolkata welcomed the contingent, according to news agency ANI. To which the leader of the contingent said, “Wish you fair winds. Happy hunting. Over and out.”
Group Captain Harkirat Singh, a decorated fighter pilot and the commanding officer of the No 17 Squadron, is heading the aircrew bringing the Rafales to India.
The fighter jets will be welcomed with a water salute and 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’.
Police have tightened security around the air force station ahead of the landing of the first batch of five Rafale jets at Ambala airbase. The squadron of Rafale jets will be stationed at the airbase.
The jets, which took off from the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux on Monday, covered a distance of nearly 7,000km with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
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 taking photographs of the boundary wall of the airbase and its adjoining areas. The district administration has also prohibited people from flying private drones within the three-km radius of the airbase.
Section 144, which prohibits assembly of four or more people, has been imposed in the villages adjoining the airbase, including Dhulkot, Baldev Nagar, Garnala and Panjkhora
Haryana Police have also set up several check barricades and police officers were seen patrolling residential localities near the airbase, 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.
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.
Anil Vij, Haryana’s home minister, said 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,” Vij said.
Thousands would have gathered in the streets to welcome the jets if the threat of coronavirus pandemic had not been there.
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 in 2016.
(With agency inputs)