Rajnath Singh receives first Rafale jet in France
On Tuesday, Union Defense Minister Rajnath Singh received the first of the 36 Rafale jets in France on behalf of the Indian Air Force.
The minister is in France for an official handover ceremony of the Rafale jets and is at the Dassault assembly line facility in Merignac.
Dassault Aviation is the aircraft manufacturer that designed and built Rafale.
Here are more details.
Singh to take sortie in Rafale combat aircraft soon
According to ANI, Singh will take a sortie in the Rafale combat aircraft shortly.
Reportedly, he will take the rear seat and a French pilot will fly the jet while undertaking the sortie.
A symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first Rafale combat jet will also be held soon.
The minister will also conduct a Shashtra Pooja today as India marks the festival of Dussehra.
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Singh accompanied by French Minister of Armed Forces at ceremony
Singh is on a three-day visit to France and upon arrival in Merignac, he was welcomed by Dassault Aviation CEO Éric Trappier. Accompanying Singh is the French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly at the hand-over ceremony, which coincides with the 87th Air Force Day.
Today marks a new milestone in India-France strategic partnership: Singh
Speaking at the ceremony, the Defense Minister said, "Today marks a new milestone in India-France strategic partnership."
He said, "I am confident that this will add further strength to our Air Force."
He added that the day is symbolic in many ways as it coincides with the 87th Air Force Day and Vijayadashmi, which marks the victory of good over evil.
'Rafale will boost India's air dominance exponentially'
The Defence Minister added, "I'm told 'Rafale' is a French word, meaning gust of wind. I'm sure the aircraft will live up to its name. I believe Rafale will boost India's air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region."
Earlier today, Singh met French President Emmanuel Macron
Before Singh arrived in Merignac, he had a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron where the two leaders resolved to take India-France ties to the next level.
Singh described the 35-minute meet as "long and productive".
He said, "The meeting demonstrated the depth of India-France bilateral partnerships, especially in the defense sector, which has significantly strengthened in recent times."
RB-01: India's first Rafale tail number
Reportedly, the aircraft in which Singh will take a sortie has the tail number RB-01. "RB" are the initials of the newly-appointed IAF Chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria.
This is a way to recognize the IAF Chief's efforts that played a significant role in the signing of the Rs. 59,000 crore Rafale deal for 36 combat aircraft between India and France.
First batch of Rafale jets to arrive by May 2020
India and France had signed a deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets for Rs. 59,000 crore in September 2016.
Dassault Rafale is a fully versatile aircraft capable of combat aviation missions, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
Although the hand-over ceremony takes place today, the first batch of four Rafale jets will only arrive in India by May 2020.
Rafale will give us edge over Pakistan, China: IAF Chief
"Rafale is a very capable aircraft," Air Marshal Bhadauria said after taking charge as IAF Chief, "It'll be a gamechanger in terms of our operational capability and when we use it in combination with SU-30 and other fleets which we have, we would have a serious jump in our capability.
He added, "It will give us an edge over Pakistan and China."
Indian Air Force