The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday formally inducted the Rafale aircraft into its 101 Squadron at the Air Force Station in Hasimara under the Eastern Air Command (EAC).
Hasimara in West Bengal earlier had a MiG 27 Squadron that has now been decommissioned.
It is a strategic base for Indian Air Force operations because of its proximity to Bhutan.
The Chumbi Valley, where lies a tri-junction between India, Bhutan and China, is close to Doklam where a standoff took place in 2017. The tri-junction has been matter of concern for all the three nations.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria said that the induction of Rafale had been carefully planned at Hasimara, keeping in mind the importance of strengthening IAF's capability in the eastern sector.
He was referring to the threat from China in the region. India and China are engaged in a border dispute for the last one-and-a-half years and talks are on at the diplomatic and military levels to lower the tension and resolve the issue.
Recalling the glorious history of 101 Squadron, which has been bestowed with the title 'Falcons of Chamb and Akhnoor', Bhadauria urged the air warriors to combine their zeal and commitment with the unmatched potential of the newly inducted platform.
He said that he had no doubt that the Squadron would dominate whenever and wherever required, and ensure that the adversary would always be intimidated by their sheer presence.
101 Squadron is the second IAF Squadron to be equipped with Rafale aircraft. The Squadron was formed on May 1, 1949 at Palam and has operated Harvard, Spitfire, Vampire, Su-7 and MiG-21M aircraft in the past.
The glorious history of this Squadron includes active participation in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.
The first squadron was raised in Ambala after the first batch of five Rafale aircraft landed on July 29, 2020. These aircraft were inducted into the 17 Golden Arrows Squadron at the Ambala Air Base on September 10.
India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.
Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture.
It is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie.
The fighter aircraft are equipped with HAMMER missiles. They will also be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.
With IANS Inputs
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