After five Rafale fighter jets touched down at Haryana's Ambala on Wednesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said those who want to threaten country's territorial integrity should be worried about new capability of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The minister said the Rafale jets were purchased only because Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the right decision to get these aircraft through an Inter-Governmental Agreement with France after the long-pending procurement case for them could not progress.
"The Rafale jets were purchased only because PM Shri Narendra Modi took the right decision to get these aircraft through an Inter-Governmental Agreement with France, after the long-pending procurement case for them could not progress. I thank him for his courage & decisiveness," Singh tweeted.
Singh said all allegations against the procurement of these jets have already been answered and settled.
"The Rafale jets were purchased when they fully met the operational requirements of the IAF. The baseless allegations against this procurement have already been answered and settled," he tweeted.
"I would like to add, if it is anyone who should be worried about or critical about this new capability of the Indian Air Force, it should be those who want to threaten our territorial integrity," he said in another tweet.
"This aircraft has very good flying performance and its weapons, radar and other sensors and Electronic Warfare capabilities are amongst the best in the world. Its arrival in India will make the IAF much stronger to deter any threat that may be posed on our country," he said.
The minister also congratulated the IAF for the professionally executed ferry and thanked the French Government, Dassault Aviation and other French companies for ensuring the timely delivery of the aircraft and its weapons despite severe restrictions posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
"I congratulate the IAF on a professionally executed ferry. I am sure that 17 Squadron, the Golden Arrows, will continue to live upto their motto of "Udayam Ajasram". I am extremely happy that IAF's combat capability has got a timely boost," Singh tweeted.
"I also thank the French Government, Dassault Aviation and other French companies for ensuring the timely delivery of the aircraft and its weapons, despite the severe restrictions posed by COVID pandemic," he said.
Water salute was given to the five Rafale fighter aircraft after their landing at IAF airbase in Ambala after jets covered a distance of nearly 7,000 km journey.
The formal induction ceremony of the aircraft would be held later. The aircraft would move out soon to another operational base for operational sorties.
After taking off from France on Monday, the aircraft made their first stopover at a French base in the United Arab Emirates on their way to India and were refuelled by the French Air Force tanker aircraft somewhere around Greece or Israel over the sea before landing there.
The five were flown by pilots of the 17 Golden Arrows led by Commanding Officer Group Captain Harkirat Singh along with other pilots, Wing Commanders MK Singh, R Kataria, Sidhu and Arun.
The five Rafale fighter aircraft took off on Monday for India from an airbase in France. The weather in Ambala was cloudy with one or two spells of rain or thundershowers.
India had signed a Rs 59,000-crore deal on September 23, 2016 for 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.