IAF resurrects 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’ for Rafale

Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa after resurrecting the ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron at the Ambala airbase on September 10, 2019.

Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa after resurrecting the ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron at the Ambala airbase on September 10, 2019.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday resurrected the Air Force Station (AFS) Ambala-based 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’, which will operate the first squadron of Rafale fighter jets in the near future.

The first batch of Rafale jets are scheduled to be formally handed over to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on October 8 in France, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The jets are set to arrive in India in May 2020.

The resurrection ceremony was presided over by IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) B.S. Dhanoa. Incidentally, he had commanded the 17 Squadron during the Kargil conflict in 1999. On December 31, 2011 the squadron was ‘number plated’ after the Russian Mig-21 jets that it flew were decommissioned as part of the IAF’s long-term plan to phase the decades-old aircraft out of service and was since awaiting newer inductions.

The 17 Squadron was raised at Ambala on October 01, 1951, under the command of Flight Lieutenant D.L. Springett and initially equipped with the Harvard-II B aircraft. “By November 1955, Squadron converted fully to De Havilland Vampire and by 1957, Hawker Hunter aircraft were flown by the ‘Golden Arrows’. The Squadron converted to the Mig-21 M in 1975,” the IAF said in a statement.

Advanced training in France

Between October 2019 and May 2020, three batches — each comprising eight IAF pilots along with engineers and technicians — would undergo advanced training on the Indian jets in France, a defence official said. So far, three IAF pilots and two technical officers have trained on the French Air Force’s Rafales as per the terms of the contract. The Indian standard Rafale incorporating all the India Specific Enhancements (ISEs) would be operationally ready, latest by September 2021.

In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition following the surprise announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015 citing “critical operational necessity” of the IAF.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2022 8:14:55 am |