The first batch of the much-awaited Rafale fighter jets that took off from France on July 27 will reach India today. Nearly four years ago, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France for 36 Rafale jets under a ₹59,000-crore deal to boost the IAF's combat capabilities.
Here are 10 things to know about the aircraft that can become a game changer for India:
When will they reach India?
The first five Rafale fighter jets are expected to reach Ambala by 2 pm today. The weather and other conditions are at the moment looking good and it is expected to reach the Ambala air base on time.
Who will receive the first squadron of the Rafale jets?
Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria would receive the batch of first five Rafale combat aircraft arriving from France. Water salute will be given to the five Rafale fighter aircraft after their landing at Ambala airbase.
How many jets are coming right now?
The first batch includes five aircraft, being flown by Indian Air Force pilots. They took off from the Merignac airbase near Bordeaux in France.
The distance covered by them is close to 7,000 kms, and will require air-to-air refuelling.
Rafale fighter jets fleet
The fleet comprises three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft, according to an IAF official.
Rafale aircraft will join IAF's 'Golden Arrows' squadron
The first five Rafale fighter aircraft arriving today are flown by pilots of the 17 Golden Arrows led by Commanding Officer Group Captain Harkirat Singh along with other pilots, Wing Commanders MK Singh, R Kataria, Sidhu and Arun. Harkirat Singh is also likely to be the first pilot to touchdown at the base in Ambala.
Security beefed up near Ambala Air Force Station
Authorities tightened security and imposed prohibitory orders near the Ambala Air Force Station ahead of the arrival of five Rafale jets from France, banning shooting of videos and photography.
Section 144 imposed in Ambala
The Ambala district administration also prohibited people from flying private drones within the three-km radius of the air base, an official said. Section 144, which prohibits assembly of four or more people, has been imposed in the villages adjoining the air base, including Dhulkot, Baldev Nagar, Garnala and Panjkhora.
People to light candles to welcome the Rafale jets in Ambala
BJP's Ambala City MLA Aseem Goyal urged to people to light candles in their homes between 7-7:30 pm on Wednesday to welcome the Rafale jets.
Formal induction ceremony of Rafale jets
The first squadron of the Rafale jets will be stationed at the Ambala air base. The five Rafales are scheduled to be inducted into the IAF on Wednesday, though a formal induction ceremony would be held later.
Backup base for Rafale
The backup base for the arrival of the aircraft in case there is a weather issue in and around Ambala would be the Jodhpur air base.