The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Wednesday operationalised its second Rafale fighter squadron by formally inducting jets into the No. 101 Squadron at Air Force Station Hasimara in West Bengal.
The IAF has so far inducted 26 Rafale jets in eights batches; the previous batch was inducted on July 21.
An IAF statement said: “Addressing the personnel during the induction ceremony, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of Air Staff 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.”
The ceremony also included a fly past heralding the arrival of Rafale aircraft to Hasimara, followed by a traditional water cannon salute.
The squadron, bestowed with the title ‘Falcons of Chamb and Akhnoor’, was formed on May 1, 1949 at Palam, and has operated the Harvard, Spitfire, Vampire, Su-7 and MiG-21M aircraft in the past. The squadron saw active participation in 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.
The first Rafale squadron, the No.17 Golden Arrows, is based at Ambala.
In September 2020, the IAF inducted the first batch of five Rafales of 36 jets, contracted under a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement signed in September 2016 with 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE).