Paris (France) | Jagran News Desk: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday took ‘delivery’ of the first of the 36 Rafale jets acquired from Dassault Aviation for the Indian Air Force in France.

At the handover ceremony, the Defence Minister called it a ‘historic day’ for the Indian Armed Force. Rajnath, however, said that inducting Rafale is 'deterrent' and not a sign of 'aggression'.

“I am happy that the delivery of Rafale aircraft is on schedule, I am confident that this will add further strength to our Air Force. I wish cooperation between our two major democracies further increases in all sectors,” news agency ANI quoted Rajnath Singh as saying.

The Defence Minister also said that this day has marked a new milestone in India-France strategic partnership.

“Today marks a new milestone in India-France strategic partnership. I look forward to taking a sortie in the Rafale aircraft,” he said.

“In India, today is the festival of Dussehra also known as Vijayadashmi where we celebrate victory over evil. It is also the 87th Air Force Day, therefore the day becomes symbolic in so many ways,” he added.

He further said that Rafale will boost India’s air dominance exponentially and ensure peace in the region.

“I am told that Rafale is a French word meaning gust of wind. I am 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,” he said.

Rajnath Singh, who arrived in France on Tuesday for a three-day visit, accepted the handover at a facility of Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation in Bordeaux. The handover ceremony took place at a facility of Dassault Aviation in Merignac of Bordeaux which is around 590 km from Paris.

The first batch of four Rafale jets, which are part of the Rs 59,000-crore deal made in September 2016, are expected to arrive in India in May next year while the rest of the aircraft will arrive by September 2022

The minister also performed 'Shastra Puja' on the auspicious occasion of Vijaydashmi. He also took a sortie in the Rafale fighter aircraft.

The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. According to Dassault Aviation, the Rafale can carry out all combat aviation missions to achieve air superiority and air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.

The Rafale jets intended for India are expected to come with certain bespoke modifications for the IAF and have been awaited as a crucial enhancement to India's Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft fleet.

(With PTI and ANI inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma