Defence News India: Defence minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday received the first Rafale fighter jet in a ceremony at Merignac airbase in Paris. India has bought 36 Rafale fighter jets manufactured by Dassault Aviation under a 7.8 billion euro government-to-government deal with the French government. The deal was signed in September 2016 to supply 36 Rafale jets in flyaway condition to meet the urgent operational needs of Indian Air Force as a deal to acquire 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft could not be agreed upon during the UPA government’s tenure.
Emphasising on the Modi government’s focus to equip Indian Air Force with the latest hardware and enhance its capabilities, defence minister Rajnath Singh said that induction of a new medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) will make India stronger and will give a boost to its air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region.
In his address at the Rafale handing over Ceremony in France where he performed a symbolic Shastra Puja of the first Rafale jet, Rajnath Singh said it was a historic and landmark day for the Indian Armed Forces.
“In India, today is Dussehra, the festival where we celebrate victory over evil. It is also the 87th Indian Air Force Day. Therefore, today’s day becomes symbolic in so many ways,” Rajnath Singh said.
The defence minister said strong cooperation between India and France will continue to grow and contribute to global peace, prosperity and environmental sustainability. He also stressed the importance of the ceremony saying it signifies the depth of strategic partnership between India and France.
Rajnath Singh also highlighted the fact that the Rafale Project Monitoring Team (PMT) from India has been positioned in France since August 2017 to ensure smooth implementation of the project.
He also expressed satisfaction over the fact that the delivery of Rafale aircraft was on schedule and will add to the strength of Indian Air force.
He said that a large number of India Air Force officers and airmen are being trained in France for flying, maintenance support and logistics for handling Rafale fighter aircraft and hoped the training in French facilities will help the crew in acquiring knowledge and professional expertise required for performing their task in India.
“I look forward to flying in the Rafale aircraft. This will be a great honour and experience”, he added.
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Defence Minister also performed a symbolic ‘Shastra Puja’ on Rafale on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami.
French defence minister Florence Parly and Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Aviation Eric Trappier were also present on the occasion.
The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale aircraft procurement was signed between the Government of India and Government of France on September 23, 2016.