CHANDIGARH: With the induction of Rafale fighter jets at Ambala, the western front has been equipped with the most sophisticated and advanced flying machines in the country within 18 months. According to defence experts, the deployment of these advanced flying machines is strategically important as this sector provides logistic support to the entire Jammu and Kashmir theatre, including Ladakh.
The IAF had inducted the advanced heavy-lift Chinook helicopters into the 126 Helicopter Flight squadron at 12-Wing air force station Chandigarh in March 2019. A crucial operational base, Chandigarh station is considered as the spinal cord of troops deployed at the high altitude areas like Ladakh and Kargil.
The versatile, multi-role AN-32 and the strategic lift IL-76 aircrafts housed at the Chandigarh airbase forms the backbone of the nation’s security in J&K, Siachen and Ladakh sectors and has played vital roles in several conflicts.
Later, the IAF had inducted the Apache helicopters as part of 125-Helicopter squadron, which is popularly called ‘Gladiators’ of IAF, at Pathankot airbase last September. Pathankot provides an essential operational range for deep air raids in the entire western and northern theatre to meet any eventuality.
The induction of Rafale at Ambala airbase, which is the country’s oldest and largest airbase, would provide more airpower to the armed forces which are guarding the country’s borders in most inhospitable conditions in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh regions from Pakistan and China.
A traditional water cannon salute to the Rafale aircraft, symbolising formal induction of the flying machine into the IAF, was also given. Before the ceremonial unveiling of the Rafale jets, a traditional ‘Sarva Dharma Puja (a prayer by Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian preachers) was performed.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, IAF Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria and defence secretary Ajay Kumar were among those who were present at the ceremony. Apart from Parly, the French delegation included Emmanuel Lenain, ambassador of France to India, and people from the French industry.