The Indian Air Force (IAF) officially inducted the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets to its 17th Squadron in the country’s northwestern Haryana state on Thursday.
New Delhi inked an inter-governmental deal with France in September 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets. Thursday’s ceremony took place at the Ambala Air Force Station, more than a month after the five fighter jets were flown in by Indian military pilots from France on July 29.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly attended the ceremony.
India’s military sees the induction as “a milestone in the history of the IAF.” The jets, manufactured by France’s Dassault Aviation, will now be part of the 17th Squadron, known as Golden Arrows.
The next batch of the aircraft is expected to arrive in India in October, and the last batch may arrive by the end of 2021, the Financial Express reported.
The video shared by the Indian military contained footage giving a first-person view of the jet’s journey from France to India. It also included an arrow formation with the Indian tanker IL-78. And a fighter jet was showcased, carrying out a sortie across snow-covered mountains.
The IAF pilots earlier reportedly practiced night operations with the Rafale in the mountainous terrain of Himachal Pradesh.
During the induction ceremony at the IAF airbase in Ambala, the flypast also featured the Su-30, Jaguar and Tejas fighter jets.
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