Defence Minister Rajnath Singh preparing for a sortie in the first Rafale fighter aircraft that was handed over to India at a ceremony at Merignac in France on October 8, 2019.
Paris, October 8, 2019
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today received the first of the 36 Rafale fighter aircraft ordered by India from France at a handing-over ceremony at Merignac and said the strong cooperation between the two countries would continue to grow and contribute to global peace, prosperity and environmental sustainability.
Emphasising the government's focus on equipping the Indian Air Force with modern equipment and enhancing its capabilities, he said the new ew Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) would make India stronger and give a boost to its air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region.
He said the handing over of the first Rafale aircraft was a historic and landmark day for the Indian Armed Forces.
“In India, today is Dussehra, the festival where we celebrate victory over evil. It is also the 87th Indian Air Force Day. Therefore, today’s day becomes symbolic in so many ways," he said.
Rajnath Singh says the strong cooperation between India and France will continue to grow and contribute to global peace, prosperity and environmental sustainability. He also stressed the importance of the ceremony saying it signifies the depth of the strategic partnership between the two countries.
The Defence Minister also said he was glad to know that a large number of Indian Air Force (IAF) officers and airmen are being trained in France for flying, maintenance support and logistics for handling Rafale fighter aircraft and hoped the training in French facilities will help the crew in acquiring knowledge and professional expertise required for performing their task in India.
Rajnath Singh pointed out that the Rafale Project Monitoring Team (PMT) from India has been positioned in France since August 2017 to ensure smooth implementation of the project. He said he was happy that the delivery of Rafale aircraft is on schedule and will add to the strength of the IAF.
“I look forward to flying in the Rafale aircraft. This will be a great honour and experience," he said, before going on a sortie in the fighter jet.
He also performed the ‘Shastra Puja’ on the aircraft on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami.
Also, present on the occasion was French Minister of Armed Forces, Ms Florence Parly and Eric Trappier, Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Aviation, the manufacturers of the aircraft.
The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale aircraft procurement was signed between the Government of India and Government of France on 23 September, 2016.
Earlier, Rajnath Singh held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris before leaving for the ceremony at Merignac in Bordeaux.
The Indian Defence Minister had reached Paris on Monday on a two-day official visit.
During their talks, Rajnath Singh and Macron comprehensively discussed key aspects of the bilateral defence partnership and resolved to continue strengthening the ties between the two countries.
“I thanked President Macron for his strong support to further intensifying our strategic partnership, especially in the defence sector, with India and for our ‘Make in India’ initiatives," Rajnath Singh said after the meeting.
He also thanked the French President for the strong support by France to India's strategic interests and principles, including in fighting terrorism.
Earlier, Rajnath Singh, on his arrival in Paris, had tweeted that France is India’s important strategic partner and its special relationship with India goes far beyond the realm of formal ties.
The Defence Minister also said that his visit to France is aimed at expanding the existing strategic partnership between the two countries.
He also expressed his deepest condolences, on behalf of the Indian Government and its people upon the demise of former French President Jacques Chirac, saying Chirac had played a decisive role in forging the India-France Strategic Partnership.
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