New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday resurrected its 17 Squadron, also called the ‘Golden Arrows’, which will be the first unit of the force to fly the incoming Rafale fighter jets from France.
Announcing the resurrection at the Ambala Air Force Station, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) BS Dhanoa said, “It gives me immense pleasure to handover squadron insignia to commanding officer designate group Captain Harkirat Singh.”
It is from the Ambala Air Force Station, that the squadron, which was formed in 1951, will operate. It was earlier operated from the Bhatinda airbase and was disbanded in September 2016 when the IAF started phasing out its Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jets.
ACM Dhanoa himself commanded the squadron during the 1999 Kargil War.
Speaking on the occasion, the Air Chief further said, “The ‘Golden arrows’ have been an epitome of professional excellence & dedication. The association of 17 squadron with Ambala has been from its very inception when it was formed here in 1951. It has come back to Ambala.”
The Ambala Air Force Station is considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF as it is located around 220 kilometres from the Pakistan border.
The first batch of Rafales are expected to arrive in October and will be received by Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The second batch, meanwhile, will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.
In September 2016, India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase 58 Rafale jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore.
ACM Dhanoa, who is also the current Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), will retire on September 30.