Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is in France on a three-day visit during the course of which he received the first Rafale jet fighter on India's behalf. On Tuesday, he visited the premises of Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of the Rafale fighter jets, where he engaged in the official handover ceremony. At the event, the Defence Minister was shown as a special video on the Rafale jets, which spanned the time the first jet was manufactured to the time India entered a deal with the French company.
Rajnath Singh will also perform a 'shastra puja' - a ceremony to worship weapons which gains particular significance as it is Dussehra in India. The event will take place at the premises of Dassault Aviation, the manufacturers of the Rafale jets, in Merignac. Rajnath Singh will also fly a sortie in the Rafale jet. India will start receiving the first four Rafale fighter jets from May 2020 onwards.
Before his departure, Rajnath Singh stated he will be attending the Annual Defence Dialogue and the Induction Ceremony of Rafale. Singh will hold the Annual Defence dialogue with French Minister of Armed Forces Ms Florence Parly. On October 9, he will address the CEOs of the French Defence industry during which he is likely to urge them to participate in “Make in India” and the DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5-8, 2020.
Rajnath Singh, addressing the gathering at the handover ceremony said, "I am happy that the delivery of Rafale Aircraft is on schedule. Rafale will add to the strength of our Air Force. Our focus is to equip our Airforce and enhance its capabilities. Excellency Minister, we are sure that the delivery time will be on schedule for all the 36 Rafale jets. I'm thankful for the french support not only in defence matters but also other matters that are imp for India,I hope the partnership between the two countries grows. I look forward to flying in the Rafale Aircraft shortly,this will be a great honour and experience."
Earlier in the day, Rajnath Singh also met French President Emmanuel Macron and had a discussion on a wide range of topics.