Defence Minister Rajnath Singh received India's first Rafale combat aircraft, out of the 36 fighter jets ordered as part of the MMRCA deal between India and France, on behalf of the IAF on Tuesday. Rajnath Singh travelled from Paris to Mérignac, and speaking from the Merignac Air Base, he said, "Today is truly a historic day for the Indian forces and this ceremony shows the depth of the strategic partnership in the relations of India and France."
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Mérignac(France): Today marks a new milestone in India-France strategic partnership.I look forward to taking a sortie in the #Rafale aircraft pic.twitter.com/ho6LZGmDE7— ANI (@ANI) October 8, 2019
As part of the event that included an amalgamation of Indian and French themes, as well as flags, Rajnath Singh said, I am told that Rafale is a French word meaning 'gust of wind.' I am sure the aircraft will live up to its name. I believe Rafale will boost India's air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh:In India, today is the festival of #Dusssehra also known as #Vijayadashmi where we celebrate victory over evil. It is also the 87th Air Force Day, therefore the day becomes symbolic in so many ways. https://t.co/fCTDDNyuK7— ANI (@ANI) October 8, 2019
Rajnath Singh also paid homage to Late President of France Jacques Chirac. He said, "At the outset, I pay homage to Late President Jacques Chirac-a truly global statesman and a staunch friend of India- who played a decisive role along with our late Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee in establishing and building India-France Strategic Partnership."
Dassault Aviation CEO Éric Trappier received Rajnath Singh at the handover ceremony, where the Defence Minister performed the 'Shastra Puja' on the occasion of Dussehra, and ahead of his sortie in the fighter jet. A day earlier Rajnath Singh had stated that everybody is “excited” about the reception of the first-ever Rafale jet. "Naturally, everyone is excited about Rafale coming to India and Rafale will be handed over tomorrow, you too should witness the ceremony," he had said.
India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. While the formal handover ceremony takes place this week, the first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to their home base in India by May 2020.
Ahead of Rafale's induction into the Indian Air Force, Minister for Defence Rajnath Singh met his French counterpart Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly and Admiral Bernard Rogel who is Defence Advisor to the French President Emmanuel Macron. The meeting took place at the Élysée Palace in Paris on Tuesday, before a half-hour-long meeting between Rajnath and Macron.