The first five of a batch of French Rafale fighter jets arrive at Haryana's Ambala air base after covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km to join the Indian Air Force fleet. Chief of Air Staff RKS Bhadauria is at the strategically key Ambala air base to receive the Rafale jets, India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in over two decades. A Rs 59,000-crore deal was signed on September 23, 2016 for 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.
Here are the Live Updates ahead of the arrival of the Rafale jets:
In a series of tweets, Mr Shah congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Indian Air Force and the entire country on this "momentous day".
"Rafale touchdown is a historic day for our vigorous @IAF_MCC and a proud moment for India! These are the world''s most powerful machines capable to thwart any challenge in the sky. I am sure Rafale will help our Air warriors to safeguard our skies with its mighty superiority," Mr Shah said in a tweet.
"From speed to weapon capabilities, Rafale is way ahead! I am sure these world class fighter jets will prove to be a game changer. Congratulations to PM @narendramodi ji, DM @rajnathsingh ji, Indian Air Force and the entire country on this momentous day. #RafaleInIndia," he added.
Amit Shah said that the Modi government is committed to building India's defence capabilities.
"Induction of these next generation aircrafts is a true testimony of PM @narendramodi's resolve to make India a powerful and secure nation. Modi government is committed to build on India's defence capabilities. I thank honourable PM for providing this unprecedented strength to our IAF," he tweeted.
The "roaring bird" Rafale comes home!- Dharmendra Pradhan (@dpradhanbjp) July 29, 2020
The Indian skies get a new formidable protector. Rafale will give quantum boost to Indian fire power and air strike capabilities.
Congratulations @IAF_MCC on this powerful addition! pic.twitter.com/BR5lDe7fvM
The Touchdown of Rafale at Ambala. pic.twitter.com/e3OFQa1bZY- Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) July 29, 2020
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.- Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) July 29, 2020
The Birds have landed safely in Ambala.- Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) July 29, 2020
The touch down of Rafale combat aircrafts in India marks the beginning of a new era in our Military History.
These multirole aircrafts will revolutionise the capabilities of the @IAF_MCC.
"May you touch the sky with glory, happy landings": Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata welcomes Rafale contingent as they entered the Indian airspace.#RafaleInIndiapic.twitter.com/DqNxbSalnz- NDTV (@ndtv) July 29, 2020
The five Rafales escorted by 02 SU30 MKIs as they enter the Indian air space.@IAF_MCCpic.twitter.com/djpt16OqVd- रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) July 29, 2020
The Birds have entered the Indian airspace..Happy Landing in Ambala! @IAF_MCCpic.twitter.com/dh35pMDyYi- रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) July 29, 2020
Large gatherings are banned and security has been tightened near the Ambala Air Force Station in Haryana where the first five of a batch of French Rafale fighter jets will make a touchdown this afternoon. Read more
#HEAR: Indian #Rafale contingent establishes contact with Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata deployed in Western Arabian Sea. pic.twitter.com/NOnzKOo2fa- ANI (@ANI) July 29, 2020
5 Rafales to land in India today. Follow special live coverage from Ground Zero on NDTV 24x7 with @VishnuNDTV.#RafaleInIndiapic.twitter.com/Aw7cp8NCUr- NDTV (@ndtv) July 29, 2020
Water salute to be given to the five Rafale fighter aircraft after their landing at Ambala airbase in Haryana today: news agency ANI
Read this 2012 piece by Vishnu Som, NDTV's Defence Editor.
The Rafale fighter jets were seen re-fuelling mid-air from a French Air Force tanker on Tuesday before their scheduled stopover at the Al-Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates.
Indian Air Force appreciates the support provided by French Air Force for our Rafale journey back home. @Armee_de_lair@Indian_Embassy@Dassault_OnAir#Rafale#IndianAirForcepic.twitter.com/7Ec8oqOJmr- Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) July 28, 2020
Security has been tightened near the airbase, located around 200 km from the border with Pakistan, and large gatherings have been banned in four villages nearby. There are also restrictions on people gathering on rooftops and any filming or photography during the landing. A local MLA has urged people to light candles this evening to welcome the jets.