IAF’s Second Rafale Squadron To Get Operational From Strategic Hasimara Air Base

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will get a major boost along the China border in the northeast as the force would be making its second Rafale fighter aircraft squadron operational by July 26.

The Rafale aircraft which have already arrived in Ambala would start ferrying to the Hashimara airbase in the next few days and the squadron would get operational by July 26, government sources told.

The newly raised squadron named 101 Squadron only has five Rafale jets. The remaining 13 jets will arrive early next year. The first Rafale jets squadron – the ‘17 Golden Arrows– is fully operational at Ambala with 18 warplanes and is carrying out regular sorties over skies of Ladakh in the last few months amid the military standoff between India and China.

101 Squadron, also known as the ‘Falcons of the Chhamb and Akhnoor’ participated in the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1965 and 1971 and was operational till 2011. MiG 21 squadron is now being resurrected with omni-role Rafale jets.

The 101 squadron would be mainly responsible for looking after the eastern frontier with China-based in Hashimara while the 17 squadron in Ambala would be looking after the Northern borders with China in Ladakh and other areas along with Pakistan.

The Air Force has received around 25 aircraft from France and more are expected to be delivered in the next few months out of the 36 planes that India had ordered in 2016.

The planes have already been operationalised in the service within few days of their arrival in July and they have already been deployed for air patrols along the eastern front with China and the new squadron would be functioning with the fleet of Su-30 squadrons already deployed in the eastern sector in significant numbers.

India is now planning to place orders for 114 multirole fighter aircraft along with the indigenously developed stealth fighters Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft whose seven squadrons would join the IAF in the next 15-20 years.

After the planes were formally inducted in September, the second set of Rafale fighter jets reached India in November. The twin-engine Rafale jets are capable of carrying out a variety of missions of ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and nuclear strike deterrence.

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