Prime Minister Narendra Modi today welcomed the five French Rafale jets to India tweeting a few verses in Sanskrit and a brief video of the landing at the Ambala Air Force station. With the hash tag "RafaleInIndia", his tweet ended with "Swagatham".
The tweet, roughly translated, reads: "There is no virtue like defense of the nation, there is no vow like defense of the nation, there is no sacrifice like the defense of the nation... You who touch the skies, welcome".
The five Rafale jets landed in Ambala this afternoon to a traditional water salute, and were inducted into the No 17 Squadron, also known as the "Golden Arrows". A formal induction will take place next month.
The government had inked the Rs 59,000-crore deal for 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation in September 2016.
Union defence minister Rajnath Singh had thanked the Prime Minister earlier, tweeting that his initiative has made the "long-pending procurement" possible.
"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," Mr Singh's tweet read.
The Rafale jets -- the first foreign-made fighter jets acquired in two decades -- will shore up the aged and depleting fleet of the Air Force. The last fighter jets acruired from abroad were the Sukhois from Russia two decades ago.
The Rafales are capable of carrying a range of highly effective weapons, including the Meteor air-to-air missile and SCALP cruise missile and the MICA air-to-air missile, a versatile weapon system.
The Meteor missile hits aerial targets farther out than any missile of its class. The SCALP cruise missiles can hit ground targets 300 km away.
The jets also come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others.