5 Rafale fighter aircraft to land in Ambala on July 29, will join IAF's resurrected 'Golden Arrows' Squadron
The first batch of 5 fighter aircraft are set to take off from Al Dhafra in UAE at around 11 am IST on Wednesday (July 29) and will land in Ambala at 2 pm to join 'Golden Arrows' Squadron of Indian Air Force (IAF). Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria will be present at Ambala Air Force Station in Haryana to receive Rafale fighter jets.
The Rafale jets landed at UAE's Al Dhafra base after taking off from France on Monday (July 27). These fighter aircraft landed at Al Dhafra base as part of an overnight halt. Al Dhafra base is located about an hour from UAE's capital city Abu Dhabi.
Former IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa had resurrected the No.17 'Golden Arrows' Squadron at Haryana's Ambala airbase on September 10, 2019. The Golden Arrows Squadron has been put on Indian Air Force's active Order of Battle following the resurrection.
"It gives me immense pleasure to handover the Squadron insignia to Commanding Officer Designate Group Captain Harkirat Singh. The Golden Arrows has been an epitome of professional excellence and dedication. The association of Number 17 Squadron with Ambala has been from its very inception when it was formed here in 1951. It has come back to Ambala," the former IAF Chief had said on the ocassion. He had also inaugurated a Golden Arrows Squadron museum at the air base.
The 'Golden Arrows' was raised on October 1, 1951, at Ambala with the Harvard IIB trainer aircraft. Flight Lieutenant DL Springett was the first commnader of the Squadron.
By November 1955, the Squadron got its first jet fighter de Havilland Vampire. Later British Hawker Hunters were part of its fleet and in 1975 the Squadron converted to Russian MiG-21s. ACM Dhanoa had commanded the 'Golden Arrows' during the 1999 Kargil War as a Wing Commander. He also flew several sorties to rain bombs over the Pakistani intruders perched on the mountains as part of Operation 'Safed Sagar'.
The Squadron played an important role in Goa Liberation Campaign in December 1961 and was the reserve force during the India-Pakistan 1965 war. With the IAF retiring MiG-21 variants, the Golden Arrows was number plated (decommissioned) in 2006. But now the squadron will fly the 4++ Generation French Rafale combat aircraft.
It is to be noted that one squadron of Rafales will be based in Ambala to tackle Pakistan and one will be stationed at Hashimara in West Bengal to deal with China.
India signed a deal with France for 36 Rafale jets in early 2016. IAF Rafales will be armed with several state-of-art weapons including the beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air Meteor, short and medium-range air-to-air MICA and precision-guided air-to-ground SCALP missiles.