The Indian Air Force Wednesday formally inducted the Rafale aircraft into the 101 Squadron of the Eastern Air Commandâ€”this is the second IAF squadron to be equipped with the new fighter jets. The induction of Rafale had been carefully planned at Hasimara, keeping in mind the importance of strengthening IAF’s capability in the Eastern Sector. The 101 Squadron was formed on May 1, 1949 at Palam. It has operated the Harvard, Spitfire, Vampire, Su-7 and MiG-21M aircraft in the past, and participated in the 1965 and 1971 India-Pakistan wars.
The second squadron is being raised at Hasimara Air Force Station in West Bengal.No. 17 Squadron (Golden Arrows) is a squadron of the Indian Air Force stationed at Ambala AFS as part of Western Air Command. The squadron was number-plated in 2016, but was resurrected in Ambala on 11 September 2019 with Dassault Rafales. Delivery of 36 Rafales started on 27 July 2020 with first 5 Rafales delivered to Indian Air Force from France. By July 2021, a total of 26 Rafales had been received.
In March 2019, Indian government officials asked for Rafales to replace ageing MiG-21s and to counter Pakistan’s F-16s. The Indian Air Force accepted the aircraft at Dassault’s Bordeaux manufacturing facility in an event attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his French counterpart, Florence Parly. In 2018, it was reported that the Rafale is competing against several other aircraft in a new procurement tender for 114 multi-role combat aircraft, which is referred as MMRCA 2.0 in the Indian media.
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault. Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy.