Updated: July 29, 2020 7:07:15 pm
Pointing out that the Indian Air Force’s combat capability has got a timely boost following the arrival of the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets from France, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday said those who want to “threaten our territorial integrity” should be “worried” about India’s latest possession.
“The Birds have landed safely in Ambala. 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,” Singh tweeted after jets landed at the Ambala Air Force base at around 3:10 PM after covering a distance of 7,000 km from the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux.
“I would like to add, if it is anyone who should be worried about or critical about this new capability of the Indian Air Force, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity,” Singh added. Track LIVE updates on Rafale here
His statement assumes significance as India is locked in a bitter border row with China in eastern Ladakh that escalated following the Galwan faceoff, which saw the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers.
I would like to add, if it is anyone who should be worried about or critical about this new capability of the Indian Air Force, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) July 29, 2020
The arrival of the first batch of Rafale jets in Ambala comes nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at an estimated Rs 58,000 crore.
The Rafales were escorted by two Sukhoi 30 MKIs after they entered the Indian air space and were given a water salute when they landed in Ambala. The new fleet will be part of the 17 Squadron of the IAF. The delivery of all the 36 jets is scheduled by the end of 2021.
“This aircraft has very good flying performance and its weapons, radar and other sensors and Electronic Warfare capabilities are amongst the best in the world. Its arrival in India will make the IAF much stronger to deter any threat that may be posed on our country,” the Defence Minister said in a series of tweets.
“The Rafale jets were purchased when they fully met the operational requirements of the IAF. The baseless allegations against this procurement have already been answered and settled,” he said, referring to Congress’s accusations of financial wrongdoings in sealing the deal.
He also congratulated the IAF on bringing the aircraft from France. “I am sure that 17 Squadron, the Golden Arrows, will continue to live up to their motto of ‘Udayam Ajasram’. I am extremely happy that IAF’s combat capability has got a timely boost,” he said.
India had bought 36 twin-engine fighter planes from Dassault Rafale for an estimated Rs 58,000 crore, through an inter-governmental agreement signed in 2016, after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the IAF did not fructify during the UPA regime.
Singh credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his role in the deal. “The Rafale jets were purchased only because PM Modi 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 and decisiveness,” he said.
दृष्टो नैव च नैव च।।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 29, 2020
He also thanked the French government, Dassault Aviation and other French companies for ensuring the timely delivery of the aircraft and its weapons, despite the severe restrictions posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
The Opposition parties had alleged that the NDA government bought 36 Rafale fighter aircraft at a much higher price than the one that was being negotiated for 126 aircraft by the previous UPA government under an open tender.
In a judgment on December 14, 2018, the Supreme Court had given the government a clean chit, dismissing all the petitions questioning the deal. A bench led by former CJI Ranjan Gogoi had said it saw “no reason for any intervention… on the sensitive issue of purchase of 36 defence aircraft by the Indian Government”, and that “perception of individuals cannot be the basis of a fishing and roving enquiry…, especially in such matters”.
Congress congratulates IAF, calls govt’s deal ‘BJP’s scam’
Congratulating the IAF on receiving the Rafale jets, the Congress Wednesday said UPA government’s labour in identifying and purchasing Rafale jets in 2012 has finally borne fruit. The party, however, continued to call the deal signed by the NDA government a “scam”.
In a series of tweets, the party said, “The stark difference between the Congress & BJP deal reveal the BJP’s scam.”
The Congress Rafale purchase would have ensured India receives 126 jets instead of BJP’s 36.
108 Rafale jets would have been Made in India.
India would have received the Rafale jets by approx 2016
Cost of each Rafale jet would have been Rs. 526 crore.
— Congress (@INCIndia) July 29, 2020
“The Congress Rafale purchase would have ensured India receives 126 jets instead of BJP’s 36. 108 Rafale jets would have been Made in India. India would have received the Rafale jets by approx 2016. Cost of each Rafale jet would have been Rs 526 crore,” it added.
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