Nagpur: The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) 17 Squadron will be the first squadron to be equipped with the latest Rafale aircraft made by France’s Dassault Aviation. The aircraft is an extremely capable, fourth generation, multi-role aircraft with advanced weapons, said a press release issued by the defence spokesperson here.

A resurrection ceremony for the squadron was held at Ambala and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, the chief of air staff, presented a memento to Group Captain Harkirat Singh, the squadron’s commanding officer, on the occasion.

The 17 Squadron was formed at Ambala on Oct 1, 1951. under the command of Flight Lieutenant DL Springett and was then equipped with Harvard-II B aircraft. By November 1955, the squadron converted fully to De Havilland Vampire, and by 1957, Hawker Hunter aircraft were flown by the squadron named as Golden Arrows. It was later converted to a MiG-21 squadron in 1975.

The squadron actively participated in Goa Liberation campaign of December 1961 and in 1965 operations against Pakistan it was keep as reserve force. Under the command of Wing Commander N Chatrath, the 17 Squadron took part in the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and flew close air support, counter air and fighter recce missions, getting numerous gallantry awards, the press release said.

On November 1988, the squadron was presented colours by then President of India R Venkataraman. Under the command of then Wing Commander BS Dhanoa Golden Arrows participated actively in operation Safed Sagar during the Kargil conflict.