The Union Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh on Tuesday received the first Rafale aircraft at the Merignac Air Base in France and flew a 25-minute sortie in the aircraft along with Dassault Aviation pilot Philippe Duchateau. Soon after the sortie, the French pilot spoke to media, spoke about their flight and what the Defence Minister experienced. He also mentioned that Rajnath Singh handled a few controls to get a feeling of the aircraft and also acquaint himself the aircraft's capabilities.
Duchateau said, "Started with the full afterburn to takeoff to climb to fly at level 360 where we accelerated to Mac 1.25 which is like being your chair in your lounge, very smooth and comfortable acceleration. Then we did a little bit of air to ground, we took a high-resolution map on one airfield designated 2 DPIs to do an A2SM Hammer attack from a safe distance. Then I showed the Minister of Defence Air-to-Air and we had contact exceeding 120-kilo miles and we could look at the optonics, the FSO to see what was on the other contact."
He continued, "Then we went down to low level for a little demonstration on the terrain following the sea, we flew automatically at the height of 100 feet and at a speed of 550 knots and then a full burner acceleration from 200 knots to 550 knots so that you can see and feel the thrust of the aircraft and also the sheer power of the aircraft. Then also the Minister of Defence tried a little bit of the controls, just to get the feeling of the aircraft and then we came back for Merignac to land. I really enjoyed flying this trip and it was an honour to be flying with India's Minister of Defence."
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh after receiving the first Rafale aircraft out of the lot of 36, performed 'Shastra Puja' at the Merignac airbase in France. Visuals also showed the Defence Minister marking the aircraft with the auspicious symbol - 'Aum' with vermillion. Earlier on Tuesday, Singh also had a 35-minute long meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at Elysee Palace, Paris.