Golden Arrows The 17 Squadron IAF To Fly The First Rafales
The first of the Rafales is expected to be inducted into the Indian Air Force in September 2019. Thereafter the aircrafts will be put through intensive testing to gather data with around 1500h of combined flying.
This will be studied to validate the India Specific Enhancements on them. The next batch of four planes is likely to arrive at Ambala around May 2020.
The Indian Air Force has selected the ‘Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron IAF, which was commanded by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa during the Kargil war in 1999 for inducting the first of the Rafales.
“The first unit to receive the Rafale combat aircraft would be the 17 Squadron which was earlier located in Bhatinda in Punjab and will now be shifted to Ambala in Haryana,” as specified by IAF source. The 17 Squadron operated the MiG-21s earlier and is ‘number-plated’ at the moment.
The other squadron of the fighter aircraft would be based out of Hashimara in West Bengal to defend the Eastern Skies.
In September 2016, India signed a deal with the French government and Dassault Aviation to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets for over Euro 7.8 billion to meet the requirements on the eastern and western fronts.
However the plan to deploy one squadron of the planes at the Sarsawa air base in Uttar Pradesh did not work out due to land acquisition issues.
Thus Ambala base which has been housing Jaguar aircraft squadrons has been selected for the Rafale too.