India proudly welcomed the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets which were escorted by 2 Sukhoi 30 MKIs at Ambala Airforce Base yesterday. 

These fighter aircrafts that covered a 7,000 km distance from France have become a part of the No. 17 Squadron of the Air Force, also known as the ''Golden Arrows". They were flown by these very brave pilots of the same squadron.

pilots
Source: Telegraph India

Group Captain Harkirat Singh 

He is the Squadron Commanding Officer of the Golden Arrow 17 Squadron Rafale and was the first to land the aircraft. He is also a decorated officer who has been awarded the Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peacetime gallantry award for his courage during a mission on 23 September 2008.   

The then Squadron leader's aircraft met with an accident after his aircraft's engine exploded. However, he did not only save lives but also landed his MiG 21 Bison aircraft safely despite the faulty engines. His wife is also a wing commander at the Air Force Station and posted on ground duty. 

harkirat
Source: Twitter

Wing Commander Abhishek Tripathi

Abhishek was born in Jalore, Rajasthan while his family hails from Hardoi UP.  Since his childhood days, he was known for being good at sports. He is particularly known for his talent when it comes to wresting and running cross country. He has completed his MSc from Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi. Joined the NDA in 2001 and was commissioned as a fighter pilot from the Air Force Academy. His wife is a resident of Lucknow. 

tripathi
Source: Jagran Images

Wing Commander Manish Singh 

Manish hails from a small village called Bakwa in Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh. He got his early education at a private school in the village and after studying in the village till Class IV, he went to the Sainik School in Karnal. He joined IAF and was posted in Gorakhpur in 2017-18. After the government finalized Rafale deal with France, Wing Commander Singh was selected by the IAF to go to France for training. 

manish
Source: Baskar Assets

Squadron Leader Ranjit Singh Sidhu 

Ranjit hails from Gidderbaha town in Muktasar district, Punjab. He was known to be an all-rounder and was god at both studies and sports. After completing his Class 12th in 1999, he cleared his NDA exam in 2000 and joined IAF.  

sidhu
Source: Tribune India

Wing Commander Arun Kumar 

Arun hails from Bihar, but studied in Sainik school, Bijapur. He was a silent student with consistently high grades. He joined the National Defence Academy after passing out of the defence grooming school in Vijayapura in 2001.

arun
Source: The Hindu

Group Captain Rohit Kataria 

Rohit hails from village Basai in Gurugram, Haryana. He studied in Sainik School, Tilaiya, in Jharkhand and was commissioned in 2003. He is a father of two and had been working as instructor at Air Force training centres. He has flown almost all Air force aircraft, including Mirage and Sukhoi. 

kataria
Source: Bhaskar Assets

These heroes are an inspiration and will play a key role in the training of other pilots who are eager to reach new heights.