Rafale jets: The’Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron was commanded by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa during the Kargil war in 1999.
The Indian Air Force is expected to reestablish its’Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron on Tuesday, which is the first unit to fly the multirole Rafale fighter jets. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa will resurrect the 17 Squadron in Ambala Air Force Station as it prepares to get the Rafale jets,” sources said.
The squadron, which functioned from Bhatinda air base, was disbanded in 2016 following the IAF started slow phasing out of Russian-origin MiG 21 jets.
The squadron was formed in 1951, and originally it flew de Havilland Vampire F Mk 52 fighters. India is expected to get the first Rafale jet by the end of the month.
The IAF has completed trainings, such as readying required infrastructure and training of pilots, to welcome the fighter airplane. The sources said the first squadron of the aircraft will be deployed at Ambala Air Force Station, considered among the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The border with Pakistan is about 220 kilometers from there.
India had inked an inter-governmental arrangement with France in September 2016 to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of approximately Rs. 58,000 crore.
A range of IAF teams have visited France to assist Dassault Aviation, the maker of Rafale, add India-specific enhancements on-board the fighter airplane. The Rafale jets will come with assorted India-specific alterations, including Israeli helmet-mounted screens, radar warning receivers, low group jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and monitoring systems, amongst others.
The Congress raised several questions regarding the deal, including on the prices of the aircraft, and alleged wrongdoing, but the government has rejected the charges.
The IAF spent Rs. 400 crore to develop infrastructure such as shelters, hangers and maintenance facilities in both foundations to maintain the Rafale jets.
In July 2017, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, during his trip to France, flew a Rafale jet in the Saint-Dizier airbase to acquire first-hand experience of this aircraft. According to the deal, the delivery of the jets was completed in 67 months from the date that the contract was inked.