Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh welcomed contingent of Rafale aircraft that reached Ambala today in a series of tweets in which he also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the French manufacturer of the aircraft Dassault and congratulated the Indian Air Force. He did not forget the critics, warning that anyone "worried about or critical" would be "those who want to threaten our territorial integrity".
The five Rafale fighter jets, accompanied by two Sukhoi-30s, entered the Indian airspace this morning and landed in Ambala shortly after 3 pm. The Russian-made Sukhoi-30s were the last fighter jets made abroad that were inducted into the Air Force. Over the last few years, the indigenous Tejas fighters have been added to the fleet.
The government had inked the Rs 59,000-crore deal to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation in September 2016.
"The Rafale jets were purchased only because PM Shri @narendramodi took the right decision to get these aircrafts through an Inter-Governmental Agreement with France, after the long pending procurement case for them could not progress. I thank him for his courage & decisiveness," Rajnath Singh tweeted.
The Rafale jets were purchased only because PM Shri @narendramodi took the right decision to get these aircrafts through an Inter-Governmental Agreement with France, after the long pending procurement case for them could not progress. I thank him for his courage & decisiveness.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) July 29, 2020
In another tweet he commended the performance of the Rafale jets, saying they have a "very good flying performance" and its weapons, radar and other sensors and Electronic Warfare capabilities are "amongst the best in the world". The arrival of Rafales, he said, "will make the IAF much stronger to deter any threat that may be posed on our country".
"The Rafale jets were purchased when they fully met the operational requirements of the IAF. The baseless allegations against this procurement have already been answered and settled," one of the tweets read. Mr Singh did not name the Congress, which had targeted the government over the acquisition ahead of last year's Lok Sbaha polls, accusing it of corruption and crony capitalism.
The new fleet will be inducted into the IAF this afternoon as part of the No 17 Squadron of the Air Force, also known as the "Golden Arrows".
"I congratulate the IAF on a professionally executed ferry. I am sure that 17 Squadron, the Golden Arrows, will continue to live upto their motto of "Udayam Ajasram". I am extremely happy that IAF's combat capability has got a timely boost," a tweet from the minister read.
The jets – which took off from Merignac in southwest France on Monday and made a stopover at Al-Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates -- reached Ambala after covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km.