Guwahati: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has welcomed the contingent of Rafale fighter jets that are being flown in from France as the latest addition to the India Air Force (IAF); the jets are expected to touch down shortly at the Ambala air force station in Chandigarh.
"The Birds have entered the Indian airspace. Happy Landing in Ambala! @IAF_MCC", Singh wrote in a tweet, while also sharing some pictures of the Rafale jets taken from a higher altitude.
Singh also posted a video on his official Twitter handle which shows the aircraft contingent, escorted by 2 SU30 MKIs, in motion.
The much-awaited Rafale fighter jets are going to land in Ambala airbase after travelling 7,000 km from France, which is expected to greatly amplify the military's might.
A security blanket has been thrown by the Ambala police around the Ambala Air Force Station on the request of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to prevent photography and videography of the arrival of the jets on Wednesday afternoon.
DSP Munish Sehgal (Traffic), Ambala, informed that the gatherings of people on the rooftops and any kind of photography during the landing of the aircrafts are strictly prohibited.
The Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Defence in Chandigarh has said no media interaction is allowed and a message has been shared in a closed Whatsapp group to journalists. "We understand that the event is of national importance and hence, I assure you that timely pictures and videos of the arrival will be made available to all of you", the message read.
A message also informed the photography of military equipment in general and inside the military airfield, in particular, is punishable under law.
The aircrafts had taken off from Merignac air base in France on Monday enroute to Ambala. The aircrafts landed in Al Dhafra air base in UAE, and continued their journey on Wednesday to Ambala.
Officials informed that Ambala is exhibiting "unpredictable" weather conditions, prompting officials to choose the IAF base in Rajasthan's Jodhpur as a backup for the Rafale fighter jets. If the weather condition around Ambala doesn't subside, the batch of five aircrafts is likely to be landed and inducted into the IAF at the airbase in Jodhpur. Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria will receive the aircrafts at the Ambala base.
It needs mention here that India and France had signed the inter-governmental agreement four years ago of supplying 35 multi-role Rafale aircrafts at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
The formal induction ceremony will be held in August. "The requirement now is to ensure that the pilots and ground crew put their heads down and become integrated with the overall IAF operations at the earliest. Hence, it is in the best interest of the country, the IAF and the crew involved that they are kept away from media glare at the moment," they added.