Rafale Jets Induction in IAF; Dhoni Called them as World’s Best Fighter Pilots

MS Dhoni congratulates Indian Air Force on the induction of Rafale fighter jets. Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Thursday took to Twitter to write about the induction of the Rafale fighter jets into the Indian Air Force. Dhoni lavished praise on IAF pilots calling them the ‘world’s best fighter pilots’.

The five Rafale aircraft which arrived on July 27 at Ambala Air Force Station was inducted to the Indian Air Force’s 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’ on Thursday.  Defense minister Rajnath Singh presented an induction scroll to Group Captain Harkeerat Singh, the Commanding Officer of the 17 Squadron of the ‘Golden Arrows’ of the Indian Air Force thus formally completing the induction of the 5 Rafale fighter jets into the squadron.

Dhoni, who is currently in the UAE to take part in the upcoming season of Indian Premier League (IPL 2020), will be in action in a competitive match for the first time since playing the ICC World Cup semi-final last year, when Chennai Super Kings take on Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener on September 19.

This induction sends a strong message to the world and those who have raised an eye at us. This induction is very crucial, considering the border situation,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said at the ceremonial unveiling of the Rafale aircraft that saw a traditional Sarva dharma puja, air display by Rafale and Tejas aircraft as well as by the Sarang aerobatic team. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, his French counterpart Florence Parly, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar attended the ceremony.

The Rafale jets, built by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, are known for air-superiority and precision strikes on ground targets, making them truly multirole jets. The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to buy 36 jets for ₹ 59,000 crores. The French delegation at the ceremony included French envoy Emmanuel Lenain, Air General Eric Autellet, Vice Chief of French Air Force, Chairman and Chief Executive of Dassault Aviation Eric Trappier, and CEO of missile maker MBDA Eric Beranger. 10 Rafale jets have been delivered to India so far and five of them stayed back in France for training IAF pilots. The delivery of all 36 aircraft is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. The second batch of four-five Rafale jets is likely to arrive in India by November.

The Rafales are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets. MBDA developed the Meteor to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and Sweden. Out of 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighters and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets. While the first squadron of the Rafale jets will be stationed at Ambala airbase, the second will be based at Hasimara in West Bengal.