The Defence Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, received the 1st jet as part of the Rafale deal from France. He said on Tuesday that the Rafale jets would be a great addition to India’s dominance in the airspace. The deal includes 36 French-made jets, including the one that was received by the Defence Minister in Merignac, southwestern France at a ceremony.
The ceremony took place at the Dassault Aviation facility in France, where the minister was seen beside French Defence Minister Florence Parly.
A Shastra Puja was performed by the Indian Defence Minister, which included flowers, a coconut, and an “Om” tilak before he took off on the two-seater Rafale jet. He said in a statement that the jet would allow the Indian Air Force to increase their combat potential, which would solely be used for self-defense. He added that the country does not acquire weaponry in an attempt to threaten other nations.
Singh described his flight in the jet as memorable. He said that the flight was comfortable and smooth, and he got to have a look at the capabilities of the aircraft for combat. He also took flight in the Tejas fighter aircraft on September 19 that was indigenously-built.
Speaking in Hindi, the minister said that the Rafale deal would be of value for the fourth-largest air force in the world and would safeguard peace in the region. Adding to his address, he also mentioned the Hindi translation of the French word “Rafale” – aandhi or gust of wind.
The jet was named RB001 Rafale, with initials of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria, who was a significant part of the Rafale deal as then deputy chief of IAF.
Rajnath Singh also acknowledged the impact of the deal on the strategic partnership between India and France. He said the day was historic for the IAF, which was also the 87th Indian Air Force Day as well as Vijayadashami. With the current collaboration, both countries would be able to lend their support to global peace and sustainability, he said.
Besides the Rafale jet, Indian officers are also being equipped with the knowledge and expertise of handling the aircraft and providing maintenance support in France. Singh said that he hoped that the training would allow the officers to perform their tasks back in their country.
Singh’s French counterpart, Florence Parly, said that the jet is the best the country has to offer to India. She also said that Dussehra being on the day of the ceremony shows how much importance her country gives to India.
Parly added that the first jet is just the beginning of the journey, and France is committed to providing for the requirements of the Indian Army. The Rafale deal has been designed explicitly for Indian officers. The jets contain Israeli-mounted displays, low band jammers, infra-red search, radar warning receivers, and much more. The deal of 36 Rafale jets, which was approved in September 2016, is worth a massive ₹59,000 crore.