New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will shortly receive the first of the 36 Rafale combat jets on behalf of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday in the Dassault assembly line facility in Mérignac. Singh is in France on a three-day tour for the acceptance of the Rafale jets.
The Defence Minister will also perform “Shastra Puja” while accepting the fighter jet on the occasion of Dussehra, followed by a sortie in the aircraft. He will receive the fighter jet bearing the tail number RB-01, in view of the IAF Chief Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, who played a significant role in the signing of India’s biggest defence deal ever, with fighter jets worth more than Rs 60,000 crore.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh landed in Mérignac after a brief meeting with the French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. He travelled in a French military plane to Mérignac, a suburb in the south-western town of Bordeaux in France.
Incidentally, the handover ceremony has coincided will Dussehra as well as the 87th Indian Force Day. Earlier in the day, Singh took to micro-blogging site Twitter and said, “Greetings to all IAF personnel and their families on the 87th IAF Day. The IAF is the shining example of exemplary courage, fortitude, determination and impeccable service to our nation. These men and women in Blue have the ability to touch the sky with grit and glory.”
A day later on Wednesday, Rajnath will meet heads of the French defence industry. He is also expected to hold annual defence dialogue with the French Minister of Armed Forces.
Notably, India had signed a deal with the French government and Dassault Aviation in September 2016, to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets for over 7.8 billion euros to arrest the fall of combat squadrons and meet urgent requirements on the eastern and western fronts.