Rajnath Singh receives first Rafale jet

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stands by a Rafale jet fighter in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France. (image: AP)

France, Oct 8 : Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday took “delivery” of the first of the 36 Rafale fighter jets acquired from Dassault Aviation in the French town of Bordeaux.

Singh called it a historic day for Indian forces, and a milestone moment for Indo-French bilateral ties as he impressed upon Dassault the need to maintain the delivery timeline. “I am happy that the delivery of Rafale is on schedule. The jet will add to the strength of our forces,” he said.

Singh said October 8 is a milestone for Indo-France strategic partnership and marks a new high in bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries.

The minister is also expected to fly a sortie in the fighter jet. Earlier today, Singh met French President Emmanuel Macron and discussed stronger strategic ties with France.

Defence Minster Rajnath Singh paid tributes to former French President Jacques Chirac and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during a speech ahead of India receiving the first of the Rafale fighter aircraft in France on Tuesday.

“Former President Jacques Chirac had laid the basic groundwork for strategic partnership between India and France along with Prime Minister Vajpayee,” said Singh.

“I am sure the delivery of the remaining aircraft and the weapon systems will be on time. The acquisition of Rafale by India will ensure global peace, prosperity and environmental sustainability in the region,” he added.

Singh will receive the first Rafale jet following a traditional ‘Shastra Puja’ at the Dassault facility in Merignac.

“I am glad many officials and airmen of the Indian Air Force are being trained for flying, maintenance, support and logistics. The training will help the officials achieve technical knowledge and professional expertise,” said Singh.

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