Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is in France for the official handover of the first of the 36 long-awaited Rafale fighter jets for India. The minister performed a Shastra puja on the aircraft before flying a sortie aboard it on Tuesday. In his address at the hand-over ceremony in Merignac, he spoke about the strategic partnership between India and France.
The Defence Minister also explained the meaning of the word Rafale and said he believes the jet will boost India's air dominance.
"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," he said.
He also spoke about the significance of the day and said the day is symbolic, as it is Dussehra and also the 87th Air Force Day.
"In India, today we celebrate the festival of Dussehra which is also known as Vijayadashmi. In this festival, we celebrate the victory of good over evil. It is also the 87th Air Force day, therefore today's day is symbolic in so many ways," he said.
Rajnath Singh also met the French President Emmanuel Macron and shared the first pictures of the Rafale jet. India had signed the Rafael deal with France in September 2016. The first batch of four Rafale jets is expected to arrive in India by May 2020. Rajnath Singh also paid homage to former French president Jacques Chirac, who passed away on September 26 in his address.
"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," Rajnath Singh said.