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5 Rafale fighters to land in India today, to be inducted into ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron at Ambala base

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In the wake of a military standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, the Indian Air Force (IAF) will on Wednesday receive the first batch of five Rafale fighter aircraft, that will land at the Ambala air base for induction.

This will provide the IAF a much-needed muscle amid a depleting fighter strength.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria will receive the Rafale fighter jets.

The jets flew out from the Merignac air base in the French port city of Bordeaux and after covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km landed at Al Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates on Monday night.

The fleet comprises three single seater- and two twin seater- aircraft. They will be inducted into the Indian Air Force as part of its No 17 Squadron, also known as the Golden Arrows at Ambala air base.

The Air Force has stated that the pilots, ground crew and the fighter will be operationally ready as the jets reach India.

Rafale would be a game changer in the current scenario when India is locked in multiple standoffs with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in its northern borders, while in the western borders, it is busy tackling the increasing cross-border firing and infiltration bids by Pakistan-based terror groups.

Meanwhile, the induction at the Air Force Station in Ambala will be subject to weather conditions.

India Meteorological Department has predicted “generally cloudy sky with one or two spells of rain or thundershowers” for Ambala today.

The final induction ceremony will take place in the second half of August 20.

“IAF aircrew and ground crew have undergone comprehensive training on the aircraft, including its highly advanced weapons systems and are fully operational now,” IAF said.

Post arrival, efforts will focus on operationalisation of the aircraft at the earliest.

The Rafale fighter aircraft will be armed with beyond visual range missiles like Meteor, SCALP and MICA, increasing their ability to take on incoming targets from a distance.

A senior Indian Air Force officer said that Rafale fighter jets would be a major force multiplier. “There would always be a fear factor within the minds of the enemies,” said the officer, adding that even one Indian Rafale fighter can thwart the enemy’s plans.

He also explained that India will be supreme in the sky when the Rafale fighet aircraft come to the theatre.

Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft and has the latest weapons, superior sensors and fully integrated architecture.

Senior Indian Air Force officers state that China’s premier fighter jet Chengdu J-20A is no match to Rafale capabilities which has been seen in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

China claims that its J-20 is a 5th generation fighter aircraft, however, it has a 3rd generation engine, said a senior IAF officer questioning stealth capabilities of the aircraft.

China is now going to buy Russian Su35 to match Rafale.

The officer also said that Rafale is an omni-role aircraft which means it can carry out at least four missions in one sortie. However, China J-20 cannot carry out multiple missions in one go.

Further, the Rafale fighter aircrafts will have HAMMER missiles.

The meteor missile in Rafale makes it far more potent than the J-20. The officer also explained that the Rafale engine is better in terms of reliability, longevity and maintainability.

The officer further pointed out that Rafale can lift loads up to 1.5 times its weight, which means it can carry weapons and fuel of far greater capacity than the J-20.

In Western Theatre Command, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force has deployed 157 fighters and 20 GJ-1/WD-1K precision strike UAVs.

India has deployed 270 fighter aircrafts and 68 ground attack aircrafts.

The ‘Golden Arrows’ 17 Squadron, which operated from the Bhatinda air base, was disbanded in 2016 after the Indian Air Force started gradual phasing out of Russian-origin MIG-21 jets. It was formed in 1951 and initially flew the Havilland Vampire F Mk 52 fighters.

The squadron has been resurrected and will be the first unit to fly the multi-role Rafale fighter jets.

India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in 2016 to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets for Rs 58,000 crore.

The first Rafale fighter was handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in October 2019 in a ceremony attended by the French Minister for Armed Forces Madame Florence Parly and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Delivery of ten aircraft has been completed on schedule. Five will stay back in France for training mission. The delivery of all 36 aircraft will be completed on schedule by the end of 2021.

In accordance with the contract, the Indian Air Force pilots and support personnel have been provided full training on the aircraft and weapon systems by Dassault. Further batches of Indian Air Force personnel will continue the training over the next nine months, the statement said.

India and France have a long history of cooperation in fighter aircraft, which includes India’s acquisition of French Toofanis in 1953, then the Mystere, Jaguar and Mirage.

French Ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain, on Tuesday told ANI that the planes are outstanding and the Indian technicians and pilots marvellously completed their training in France. “They are totally capable to use these planes at their best,” he said.

Meanwhile, Section 144 CrPC has been imposed in four villages close to Ambala airbase. Gathering of people on roofs and photography during landing is strictly prohibited.

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Farmers protest: Noida-Delhi border closed for vehicles as farmers from western UP head for Delhi

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Even as more farmers from Punjab and “khaps” from Haryana are making their way to the National Capital to join the protest against the new farm laws, another group of protesting farmers is continuing with its sit-in at the Noida-Delhi border for the second day on Wednesday. This has led to the closure of one of the most important routes that connect Uttar Pradesh with Delhi.

This route is used daily by thousands of commuters by both private vehicles and public transport.

In view of the situation, the Noida Traffic Police has advised commuters travelling to Delhi to avoid the Chilla route and instead take the DND or Kalindi Kunj route.

“The Chilla route is obstructed due to the farmers’ sit-in demonstration at the Noida-Delhi border. Kindly use alternative routes (DND or Kalindi Kunj) to reach your destination,” the Noida Traffic Police tweeted.

The Noida Traffic Police have also shared a Helpline number: 9971009001.

According to the sources, the farmers who are sitting-in at the Delhi-Noida border, belong to various districts of western Uttar Pradesh and have converged to enter Delhi to join the main protest launched by farmers of Punjab and Haryana.

Hundreds of farmers affiliated to the Bharatiya Kisan Union and other groups had gathered at the border Tuesday evening where heavy security has been deployed on both Noida and Delhi sides which has prevented them from proceeding further.

Meanwhile, the Centre, on Tuesday, had sought farmers’ objections and suggestions in writing on the farm laws that are at the centre of the protest.

The first round of talks between the leaders of the farmers’ groups and the government held yesterday was unproductive.

An Agriculture Ministry statement said, “It has been suggested by the government to the representatives of farmers’ union to identify the specific issues related to farm reform acts and share with the government on December 2, 2020 for consideration. These issues will be discussed during the fourth round of meeting to be held on December 3, 2020.

“Various issues related to farm reform acts were discussed at length and talks were held in a cordial atmosphere.”

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Brazil Covid-19 death toll tops 173,000

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With 287 new coronavirus fatalities reported in Brazil in the last 24 hours, the country’s death toll has increased to 173,120, the second highest in the world after the US, according to the Health Ministry.

Besides the new fatalities on Monday, the country also registered 21,138 new cases, which took the overall tally to 6,335,878, Xinhua news agency.

Brazil’s caseload is the third highest after the US and India.

Also on Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) voiced deep concern over a sharp increase in infection and fatality rates in Brazil.

“I think Brazil has to be very, very serious,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference in Geneva.

The South American country managed to flatten the curve between September and November, but statistics rose again after lockdown measures were eased.

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Approach with ‘open heart’, not with preconditions: Farmers reject Amit Shah’s proposal for discussion

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The protesting farmers on Sunday have rejected home minister Amit Shah’s proposal for an early discussion on their grievances.

The farmers said the government should have approached with “an open heart” and not put preconditions. The farmers’ decision came after a meeting this morning to discuss the Home Minister’s offer.

It is to be noted that Amit Shah had said that if the farmer unions want talks with the government before December 3, they have to shift to the grounds at Burari to hold their protest in a structured manner.

The farmers’ decision comes hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his Mann ki Baat show said, “The new farm laws have opened the doors of opportunity for the Indian farmers.”

He said that the demands that the framers ‘made over the years’ which every government had promised to meet has ‘finally been met.’

Before the PM’s address, state president of Punjab Kisan Union, Ruldu Singh had said, “We will discuss on how to engage in talks with the centre. We are ready for talks with the centre only if they invite us for the same.”

He added that apart from the farm laws, they also want withdrawal of electricity amendment bill (2020).

“We firmly know that the union government will not agree to all our demands. While getting the three farm laws revoked is our primary demand, we also want withdrawal of electricity amendment bill (2020). If government insists on farm laws, then we will push for legalising MSP for the purchase of every crop,” he said.

A group of farmers, walking with tractors carrying stocks of food and essential supplies, tried to enter Delhi from multiple points, defying barricades.

Haryana police had dug trenches at various crossing points in order to stop the marching farmers.

Delhi Police used water cannon and tear gas shells to disperse protesting farmers at Tikri border near Delhi-Bahadurgarh highway.

Farmers were seen clashing with security forces, as they tried to head towards Delhi as part of their protest march.

Delhi Police had seek permission from Delhi Government to convert nine stadiums into temporary prisons, in view of ongoing protest. However, the permission by denied.

Protesting farmers were allowed to enter the national capital. They will have the permission to protest at the Nirankari Samagam Ground in the Burari area, Delhi Police Commissioner had said.

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