Mumbai: The stage is all set as India will induct a new multirole foreign fighter aircraft, as five Rafale combat aircraft would join its Air Force fleet today in Ambala.
The last foreign fighters to be inducted into the Air Force were the Sukhoi-30s from Russia, which have now become the mainstay of the Air Force after several orders in view of the delay in placing orders for new Western aircraft.
The aircraft will be received by Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, who was instrumental in the acquisition of these aircraft as the in-charge of the Indian negotiating team for the Rs 60,000-crore defense deal signed by the largest India.
It has been reported that Indian Rafales were expected to take off from Al Dhafra in UAE at around 11 am and reach Ambala at 2 pm.
The weather and other conditions are looking good at the moment and it is expected to reach Ambala Airport on time.
The backup base for the arrival of the aircraft, if there is a weather problem in and around Ambala, will be Jodhpur Airport.
The first five Rafale fighter aircraft to arrive today are flown under the leadership of Captain Harkirat Singh, Commanding Officer Group of 17 pilots along with other pilots Wing Wing Commanders MK Singh, R Kataria, Sidhu, and Arun. Harkirat Singh is also likely to be the first pilot to hit a touchdown on base in Ambala.
Once the aircraft landed in Ambala, the pilots, led by Group Captain Harkirat Singh, would meet the IAF chief and brief him about his flight and training in France.
Pilots would then follow coronavirus related protocols before commencing their operational flight.
The formal induction ceremony of the aircraft would be held later. The Rafale aircraft would move out soon to another operational base for operational sorties.
The aircraft should have been delivered by the end of May first, but it was postponed for two months, given the COVID-19 status in both India and France.
India signed a Rs 60,000 crore deal with France in September 2016 to meet the emergency requirements of the Indian Air Force.