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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says it is a strong message for those who challenge India's sovereignty
Ambala, September 10, 2020
The first five Rafale fighter jets received from France were formally inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a function at the Air Force Station at Ambala and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said their induction was a strong message for the world, especially for those who challenge India's sovereignty.
Apart from Rajnath Singh, French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly was also present on the occasion.
Rajnath Singh said the induction of the Rafale aircraft was a historic moment and a very important milestone in the history of the IAF.
He described the Rafale deal as a "game changer" for India's national security.
The Defence Minister reiterated India's resolve to not compromise its sovereignty and territorial integrity under any circumstances and its determination to make all possible preparations for it.
“The intentions of themilitary are as strong as it can be,” he said.
He also said that “strengthening our defence is aimed at achieving international peace and stability and we do not want to take any step that can endanger international peace. We have the same expectation of our neighbours and other countries of the world.”
Talking about the priorities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh said national security has been a major priority of the Prime Minister, and it is the result of his vision that the country was seeing today despite many obstacles that came in the way.
Stating that the induction of the Rafale aircraft reflected the close India-france strategic relations, Rajnath Singh said, "We have cooperated closely in a number of areas to enhance our defence cooperation. As part of the transfer of technology agreement, six Scorpene submarines are being built at the Mazagaon Docks. On the basis of this partnership, the first submarine, INS Kalvari was commissioned in 2017.”
He also highlighted the Indo-French cooperation in dealing with common challenges like maritime security and piracy in the Indo-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean region.
The Defence Minister also pitched for French investments in the Indian defence manufacturing sector. He said many policy reforms have been initiated such as manufacturing of defence equipment under the strategic partnership model, enhancing FDI up to 74% by automatic route, establishment of two defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and reforms in Offsets.
“I am confident that French defence Industries will take advantage of this and France will continue to be our partner in our journey of indigenization," he said.
Rajnath Singh congratulated the IAF personnel for the swift and decisive action taken by them near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) recently. He said the rapid deployment of IAF assets at forward bases created a trust that the Air Force was fully prepared to meet its operational obligations. He also lauded the contribution of IAF to the country’s efforts during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Parly said the induction of Rafale into the IAF is a symbol of the strong and time-tested ties between the two countries.
She said now, in military terms, India will acquire a world class capability that will give it an edge in the entire region to defend itself.
She also assured India of the timely delivery of the 31 remaining aircrafts.
Parly also said France is fully committed to the Make in India initiative which has been a reality for French industry for several years, particularly in defence sector like in submarines.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, Secretary Department of Defence Research & Development and Chairman DRDO, G Satheesh Reddy, along with other senior officers of Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces witnessed the event.
The French delegation included Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India, Air General Eric Autellet, Vice-Chief of the Air Staff of the French Air Force and other senior officials.
A large delegation of senior functionaries of French defence industries which included Eric Trappier Chairman and Chief Executive of Dassault Aviation and Eric Beranger, CEO, MBDA were present during the ceremony.
The first five Rafale aircraft which arrived at Air Force Station, Ambala from France on 27th July 2020, would be part of 17 Squadron, the “Golden Arrows”.
Before the ceremonial unveiling of the Rafale, an all-religion prayer was held. There was an air display by Rafale and Tejas aircraft as well as by the Sarang aerobatic team, followed by a traditional water cannon salute to the Rafale aircraft.
After the ceremonial events the Indian and French delegations also had a bilateral meeting.
Earlier this morning, Parly was given a ceremonial guard of honour on arrival in Delhi.