The Indian Air Force (IAF) plays an important role in maintaining military deterrence and it should stay alert and remain prepared for warding off any challenges to the country and its values, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday.
Speaking at the induction ceremony of Rafale aircraft at the IAF's Ambala base, Singh urged the forces to remain vigilant.
"The way the IAF has positioned its assets at the forward bases it creates confidence that our Air Force is fully prepared to carry out its operational duties. IAF plays an important role in maintaining military deterrence and your actions will be decisive in any future war. While on the one hand, the existing situation at our land borders has caught our attention, we must not oversee the danger posed by sponsored terrorism," Singh said.
"You are all aware of the security challenges at our northern borders. In conditions like this for the protection of our country and values, we need to be prepared. Our alertness is the first step towards our safety," he added.
The Defence Minister said that the induction of Rafale aircraft will give a new shine to the 17 Squadron and urged them to stay "active like a storm and keep protecting the unity and sovereignty of the country."
He also congratulated the Air Force for their "prompt action" near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) during the unfortunate events alongside the border with China.
Singh asserted that India has always wished for peace in the world with every push for strengthening its defence capabilities and it remains committed to "not raise any steps which will lead to disruption of peace anywhere. We wish the same from our neighbours, and the other countries too."
The Defence Minister said that it sends a "big and bold message" to those who are "eyeing our sovereignty".
"It's induction today is a big and bold message to the whole world, especially to those who are eyeing our sovereignty. This induction is especially important because of the existing situation at our borders, which if I put in simple words has been created in the last few days. We fully understand that with the changing times we will also have to keep preparing ourselves," the Defence Minister said.
He also asserted that with Rafale's induction the IAF's capabilities will be revolutionalised with the "technological edge" and said that it marked strengthening of India-France relations.
"Rafale's induction in the Air Force is an important and historical moment and it is a matter of pride for us to be witness to this moment. I congratulate the Armed Forces, and all countrymen on this occasion. The induction of Rafale in IAF's fleet shows the strong relations between India and France. India and France have been economic, cultural and strategic partners since long. Our faith in strong democracy and a wish for world peace are the basis of our relation," Singh said at the induction ceremony being held at the IAF airbase in Ambala.
The Defence Minister recounted the feats achieved by the IAF using earlier French fighter aircraft during the war with Pakistan in 1965, and then again during the 1999 Kargil war.
He also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his far-sightedness which has resulted in India getting the aircraft within the right time.
Earlier, water cannon salute was given to the five Rafale aircraft at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base, Ambala during the induction ceremony on Thursday.
Singh and Minister of the Armed Forces of France Florence Parly also witnessed the traditional 'Sarva Dharma Puja' at the Rafale induction ceremony.
( With inputs from ANI )
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