Rafale lands in India: BJP leaders hail arrival of Dassault fighter jets, experts question 'wall-to-wall coverage'
In a tweet, the Indian Air Force described the arrival of the Rafale jets with the words 'Golden Arrows reach home!'
The arrival of the first batch of five Rafale jets at Ambala air force station on Wednesday afternoon was met with jubilation by ministers in the Union Cabinet and a few BJP leaders. However, Twitterati had mixed reactions, with some welcoming the arrival of the Dassault fighter jets while others treading more cautiously.
The Indian Air Force described the arrival of the Rafale jets with the words "'Golden Arrows reach home!"
'Golden Arrows' reach home!
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and AOC-in-C WAC Air Marshal B Suresh welcomed the first five IAF Rafales which landed at Air Force Station Ambala earlier today. #IndianAirForce #Rafales@DefenceMinIndia @rajnathsingh pic.twitter.com/P4MDi0FWUs
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) July 29, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted a Sanskrit verse which broadly translates to, "There is no greater virtue, no greater resolve, no greater sacrifice than the defence of the country."
दृष्टो नैव च नैव च।।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 29, 2020
Defence minister Rajnath Singh, while thanking Modi and the French government for completing the deal, also took indirectly took aim at former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had alleged corruption in the deal.
He said, "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."
Rahul, on his part, congratulated the Indian Air Force for receiving the Rafale jets, but continued to question the Union government over the deal. He said, "Congratulations to IAF for Rafale. Meanwhile, can GOI answer: 1) Why each aircraft costs ₹1670 Crores instead of ₹526 Crores? 2) Why 36 aircraft were bought instead of 126? 3) Why was bankrupt Anil given a ₹30,000 Crores contract instead of HAL?"
Meanwhile, on Twitter, several users recalled the contribution of former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who signed the deal with his French counterpart to procure 36 Rafale jets.
— Vineeta 🇮🇳 🚩 (@biharigurl) July 29, 2020
Several handles also mocked the coverage of the whole event. Prominent among them was Ajai Shukla, defence expert and retired Colonel of the Indian Army. He tweeted, "At some stage, hopefully, we are going to stop this wall-to-wall coverage of every step taken by the Rafales!"
The jubilation around the arrival of 5 Rafales seems to overlook that:
1. They are arriving 9 months late.
2. They have no “India Specific Enhancements”, for which we paid €1.7 billion. Those will be fitted only after 2022.
3. The IAF is down to just 29 squadrons.#RafaleIndia
— Ajai Shukla (@ajaishukla) July 29, 2020
Two events on the same day:
- Planes we bought from another country arrive in India
- Education Ministry announces new education policy
Guess which one is getting more breathless coverage from the media?
— Meghnad ❤️ Rafale 🔗 (@Memeghnad) July 29, 2020
About the Rafale fighter jets
The first Rafale jet was handed over to the IAF in October last year during a visit to France by Singh.
While the first squadron of the Rafale jets will be stationed at Ambala air base, the second one will be based at Hasimara base in West Bengal.
The Ambala base is considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF as the Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from it.
The IAF spent around Rs 400 crore to develop required infrastructure like shelters, hangars and maintenance facilities at the two bases.
Out of 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers. The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets.
With inputs from PTI
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