Defence Minister Rajnath Singh travelled from Paris to Mérignac to receive India's first-ever Rafale combat aircraft, out of the 36 fighter jets on behalf of the IAF.
Dassault Aviation CEO Éric Trappier received Rajnath Singh at the handover ceremony, where the Defence Minister is expected to perform 'Shastra Puja' on the occasion of Dussehra, and will also undertake a sortie in the fighter jet.
Rajnath Singh on October 7, stated that everybody is “excited” about the reception of the first-ever Rafale jet. Speaking about the event, Defence Minister said, "naturally, everyone is excited about Rafale coming to India and Rafale will be handed over tomorrow, you too should witness the ceremony."
After concluding a 35-minute meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on Tuesday afternoon, shared the first photos of the meeting. The photo shows the Defence Minister shaking hands with Macron in Paris. Rajnath Singh is on a three-day visit to France to receive the consignment of the 36 Rafale aircraft as part of the intergovernmental contract.
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.
All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022, for which the IAF has been reportedly undertaking preparations, including readying the required infrastructure and training of pilots. he handover ceremony will be followed by the annual Indo-French Defence Dialogue between Singh and French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly back in Paris on Tuesday evening.
The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. The manufacturers describe it as a fully versatile aircraft which can carry out all combat aviation missions to achieve air superiority and air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.