Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is currently on a three-day visit to France to expand the existing strategic partnership between New Delhi and Paris and for receiving the first Rafale fighter jet, on Tuesday (local time), received Guard of Honour by French Republican Guards at 'Hotel de Brienne Defense Minister,' in Paris. Singh received the aircraft at the Rafale fighter jet handing-over ceremony at Merignac in the presence of French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly.
Members of the top military brass of France as well as senior officials of Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, were also present at the ceremony. While on his trip, the Defence Minister also held a meeting with French President Emanuel Macron during which the two leaders resolved to take the relationship between the two countries to the next level.
While talking about the 35-minute meeting, Singh said that it was warm and productive and said it demonstrated the depth of India-France bilateral partnerships, 'especially in the defence sector, which has significantly strengthened in recent times'.
Singh also shared the photos of the meeting on the micro-blogging site Twitter in which the Defence Minister can be seen shaking hands with Macron in Paris.
Rajnath Singh, later, on behalf of Inida, recieved the first Rafale fighter jet and performed 'Shastra Puja' by emblazoning it with an 'Om' tilak and laid flowers and coconut, just before he was to take off in it for a sortie. The Puja later became the topic of discussion and received backlash from the opposition parties.
On a related note, the Rafale jets that India has ordered from France in a deal are expected to reach India with certain bespoke modifications for the Indian Air Force next year. The jets have been awaited as a crucial enhancement to India's Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft fleet.