Indian Air Force's first batch of 5 Rafale aircraft has arrived at the Ambala airbase. The IAF pilots have flown the aircrafts from Al Dhafra airbase in UAE, where they had made an overnight halt.
Meanwhile, strict security measures have been imposed around Ambala airbase in view of the landing of Rafale aircraft. Section 144 has been imposed in four villages close to the Ambala airbase.
16:13: Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweets in Sanskrit as Rafales arrive in India.
15:49: Water salute to the Rafales!
15:16 PM: 5 Rafale aircrafts have landed at the Ambala airbase.
15:09 PM: IAF's first 5 Rafales have reached the Ambala airbase.
14:16 PM: 5 Rafale jets are being escorted by two Sukhoi aircraft of the Indian Army.
14:10 PM: 5 Rafale jets could land at the Ambala airbase at any moment now. They have established contact with the INS Kolkata and are in the Indian airspace over the Arabian Sea.
11:33 AM: Water salute will be given to the Rafale aircraft on arrival in India. Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria to be present at the airbase at that time.
Munish Sehgal, DSP Traffic, Ambala, said the administration is on a high alert and the gathering of people on roofs and photography during landing has been strictly prohibited.
The administration has prohibited pictures of Air Force Station from places such as Dhulkot, Baldev Nagar, Garnala and Panjokhara.
Ram Kumar, DSP Ambala, said that the Ambala Cantt area has been made a 'no-drone area' as it is a sensitive zone. Action will be taken against those violating "no-photography orders".
"The Ambala Cantt area is a 'no-drone area' as it is a sensitive zone. Also, no photography is allowed in the area. If anyone violates these orders, action will be taken against them," Kumar said.
The police officers also made announcements and informed the local residents to not gather on roofs and engage in photography between 10 am and 5 pm on Wednesday.
The Indian Air Force is further boosting the capabilities of the combat aircraft by equipping it with the HAMMER missiles from France.
The order for the HAMMER standoff missiles with the capability to take out any type of targets at the range of around 60-70 kms is being processed under the emergency powers for acquisition given to the armed forces by the Narendra Modi government.
HAMMER (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) is a medium-range air-to-ground weapon designed and manufactured for the French Air Force and Navy initially.
Armed with the long-range Meteor air to air missiles and SCALP, the Rafales would give India an edge over both Pakistan and China in terms of air strike capability.
Once the aircraft land in Ambala, the pilots led by Group Captain Harkirat Singh would meet the Air Chief and brief him about their flying and training in France.
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 pilots include Group Captain Harkirat Singh who is the Commanding Officer of the 17 squadrons along with Wing Commander MK Singh and R Kataria.
In a long-awaited development, five Rafale fighter aircraft took off on Monday for India from an airbase in France.
The fighter jets were flagged off by the Indian Ambassador to France from an airbase in Merignac, France where he interacted with the India crew flying it to India.
The five aircraft flying to India include seven Indian pilots with the commanding officer of the 17 Golden Arrows squadron.
All the pilots have been trained on the aircraft by the French Dassault Aviation company as per the agreement signed for the biggest-ever defense deal signed by India in 2016 for acquiring 36 Rafale jets for over Rs 60,000 crore.