Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be joined by French Defence Minister Florence Parly on 10 September for the formal induction of Rafale fighter jets into the 17th Squadron at Ambala Air Station along the western border. The 17th Squadron, also known as the "Golden Arrows", is the first Indian Air Force squadron to be equipped with the Rafales.
Of the 36 Rafales, five fighter jets, three single seaters and two twin-seaters, received by India on 29 July have been involved in extensive training exercises mainly in mountainous terrain in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh.
The Touchdown of Rafale at Ambala. pic.twitter.com/e3OFQa1bZY— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) July 29, 2020
Rafale jets fill the gap for long-range weapons and sensors in the Indian Air Force. With its multi-role capabilities, including electronic warfare, air defence, ground support, and in-depth strikes, Rafale has a range of between 780 and 1,055km.
The new Rafale jets add strategic depth and strength to India’s air combat capabilities. The government had aimed for operationalisation of the aircraft as soon as possible after their arrival in July.
India purchased 36 Rafale fighter jets from France under a government-to-government deal in 2016 at a cost of $8.7 billion. The delivery of the jets was expedited by France at the behest of India after border tensions with China worsened in April of this year.