Rajnath Singh receives first Rafale in France; delivery in May 2020

Rajnath Singh receives first Rafale in France; delivery in May 2020

India received Tuesday the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets ordered from France in 2016 in a multi-billion-dollar deal that Paris hopes will unlock more sales despite being tainted by suspicion of corruption. The Indian Defense Minister, Raj Nath Singh, was shown in Indian Air Force uniform going on the plane's first flight, and doing "shastra puja".

Informing reporters that Rafale has the ability to fire air-to-air and air-to-land simultaneously, Rajnath added that these additions are to boost India's defence capabilities. With the induction of Rafale, the combat capability of the Air Force has increased. He was flown by Philippe Duchateau, head test pilot of Dassault Aviation.

There are 13 India-specific enhancements in the Rafale jet. The French defence minister has handed over Rafale to me.

After the puja, he will take a sortie in the aircraft, they said. "Today is a milestone day for Indio-France strategic partnership and a new high in bilateral defence co-operation", he said.

Singh received the aircraft at the handing-over ceremony in the presence of French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly.

"In India, today is the festival of Dussehra also known as Vijayadashmi where we celebrate victory over evil".

India chose October 8 for receiving the first Rafale jet not only because it is the occasion of Dussehra, but the day is also celebrated as Air Force Day every year. Following his meeting with Macron, Singh thanked France for its continued support. It is only the highly industrialised countries that can make their own weapons, while under-developed countries like India have to buy them from the former.

The ceremony coincided with the foundation ceremony of the IAF. It is a reflection of the paramount importance we give to our cooperation with India, said Parly.

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"This is just the first step of a long journey, as we are committed to meet all needs of the Indian Army". As part of a wider "Make in India" message, Singh will invite them to participate in the DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5 to 8 next year.

French Navy Rafale fighter jets are seen aboard the upgraded "Charles de Gaulle" aircraft carrier off the coast of Toulon, France, November 14, 2018.

"India is set to become the third largest commercial market for aviation and we are keen to create a strong maintenance and fix base in India to serve customers", Andries said.

It was revealed that an Indian Rafale project monitoring team has been based in France since August 2017 to ensure the smooth implementation of the project, aimed at considerably enhancing India's air combat fleet.

Singh took a tour of Safran's assembly line near the French capital of Paris. He was accompanied by Armed Forces personnel including Air Marshall Harjit Singh Arora.

Members of the top brass of the French military as well as senior officials of Dassault Aviation will also be present at the ceremony.

The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale aircraft procurement was signed between the Government of India and Government of France on September 23, 2016.

The first squadron of the Rafale aircraft will be stationed at the Ambala Air Force Station in Punjab, considered as a strategic air base given its proximity to the Indo-Pakistan border.

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