Rafale's induction could not have happened at a more opportune time considering the ongoing security situation and it also marks the operational induction of the jets, Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief RKS Bhadauria said on Thursday.
The air chief was speaking after the induction of the five Rafale aircraft which arrived on July 27 at Ambala Air Force Station int the Indian Air Force's 17 Squadron 'Golden Arrows' today.
Bhadauria said that the five aircraft have been in an "overdrive to operationalise" ever since their arrival.
"Within this time they have already flown and familiarised with our operational environment and have undergone intense integrated training with our other combat fleets, including firing of advanced weapons. Therefore, this formal induction ceremony today also marks the operational induction of the aircraft in the IAF. They are good to go and deliver," Bhadauria said.
The IAF chief thanked the Indian government for negotiating the deal, bringing it to a fruitful conclusion and the French government, air force, and industry for ensuring delivery of the jets and training of the pilots.
He also thanked the French air force for their support, "including the tankers they provided for a single hop long ferry in order to rapidly ferry the aircraft back home."
Bhadauria said that while Airforce station, Ambala, is the oldest station of the IAF would now be home to the newest aircraft of the IAF inventory and said that it was "adding a new chapter in Ambala and IAF's glorious history."
"Undoubtedly this aircraft induction the IAF immense operational capability but would become a crucial milestone in the growth of our strategic relationship," he said.
The IAF chief said that the hard work and professionalism displayed by the personnel in order to operationalise the aircraft quickly were commendable and added that it would need to continue as the rest of the aircraft, ground, and aircrew arrive.
"I have no doubts that the aircraft capabilities combined with the commitment and the zeal of the Golden Arrows would make a lethal combination and I expect the Golden Arrows to intimidate and dominate whenever and wherever employed," he said.
Earlier, a water cannon salute was given to the five Rafale aircraft at the Indian Air Force base, Ambala during the induction ceremony.