The Rafale jets, piloted by IAF officers, took off from Merignac in France and refueled midair.
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:
People danced and distributed sweets, released tricolour balloons and raised 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' slogans while some enthusiastically counted the jets as five Rafale aircraft arrived at the Ambala air base this afternoon, reported news agency ANI. Despite the many restrictions in place by the authorities, some people took to streets to catch a glimpse of the fighter jets. The restrictions put in place failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the people, many of whom took to streets in a celebratory mode, especially in the Ambala Cantonment area, to catch a glimpse of the French-manufactured jets. Some were also seen shooting videos on their smartphones. At the bazaars in Ambala Cantt area, traders and ex-servicemen released hundreds of tri-coloured balloons in the air and raised 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' slogans.
The Rafale jets are IAF's 'sikandar' and it is a proud and historic moment for Ambala that they are stationed at the air base here, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Wednesday said, reported PTI. Mr Vij said the people of Ambala were very enthusiastic about the arrival of the jets. "The Rafale jets are IAF''s 'sikandar', which will significantly boost its combat capabilities and further add to our country's security umbrella," he said about the multi-role combat fighter aircraft. "It is a proud and historic moment for us that the first batch of five Rafale jets is being inducted into IAF from Ambala," Mr Vij, who is a six-term legislator from Ambala Cantt, told news agency PTI. Mr Vij said the Ambala air base is a very old and strategic one. "It became functional in 1948. It is one of the strategic air bases in north India. We also got first of Jaguar aircrafts at Ambala. It has also played a pivotal role in 1965 and 1971 wars," the minister said.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria welcomes pilots who flew the Rafale jets to India
Calling the touchdown of Rafale fighter aircraft at Ambala airbase as a "historic day" for Indian Air Force and proud moment for India, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday said that "world-class fighter jets will prove to be a game-changer", reported news agency ANI.
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!" tweets Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
A batch of five Rafale fighter jets touched down to a special water cannon salute at the Ambala air base this afternoon, the first western combat aircraft to join the Indian Air Force 23 years after Sukhoi aircraft were imported. The French-manufactured Rafale multi-role combat jets covered a distance of nearly 7,000 km and were escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKIs after they entered the Indian air space.
"The Rafale jets were purchased when they fully met operational requirements of the Indian Air Force," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, reported news agency PTI.
"I am extremely happy that Indian Air Force's combat capability has got a timely boost," Rajnath Singh said as Rafale jets land in Ambala. "If anyone should be worried about our new capability, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity," PTI quoted the defence minister as saying.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweets video of as 5 Rafale jets touchdown at Ambala air base.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also congratulated Indian Air Force for executing this fairly.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh confirmed the safe landing of Rafale fighter jets. He tweeted:
JustIn| 5 Rafale fighter jets, first batch from France, land at Ambala air base
5 Rafales To Land In India Shortly, Will Join "Golden Arrows" Squadron
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted a video of five Rafale jets in the Indian airspace, flanked by two Su-30MKIs.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted images of five Rafale jets in the Indian airspace, flanked by two Su-30MKIs.
Massive Achievement From A Defence Point Of View: Haryana Minister Anil Vij Ahead Of Arrival Of Rafales
The arrival of five Rafale combat aircraft here on Wednesday will create history, said Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij.
"Today, the king of fighter planes will arrive in Ambala. The people are awaiting the arrival of Rafale fighter jets. If there was no COVID19, they would have welcomed the fighters jets with celebrations," Mr Vij told ANI.
He said, "It is a massive achievement from a defence point of view. It is a big umbrella. For our enemies, just the name Rafale is enough to scare them."
A water salute will be given to the five Rafale fighter aircraft after their landing at Ambala airbase in Haryana on Wednesday. The five Rafale combat aircraft will join the Indian Air Force fleet in Ambala on Wednesday.
Soon after taking off from the UAE, Indian Rafale contingent established contact with Indian Navy warship INS Kolkata, deployed in the Western Arabian Sea.
Rafale Jets To Arrive In Ambala This Afternoon
Water salute to be given to the five Rafale fighter aircraft after their landing at Ambala airbase in Haryana today: news agency ANI
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Wednesday said the people of Ambala are very enthusiastic about the arrival of the jets. "This is a very proud and a historic moment for us that the Rafale jets will be stationed in Ambala Cantonment area. Rafales are IAF''s ''Sikandar'', which will significantly boost our combat capabilities," he said.
Ambala deputy commissioner Ashok Kumar Sharma said shooting of videos or taking photographs of the boundary wall of the air base and its adjoining areas will remain strictly prohibited during the imposition of the prohibitory orders.
Rafale Jets Re-Fuelled Mid-Air On Their Way Home
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.
Rafale: Security Heightened Near Ambala Airbase
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.