Defence minister Rajnath Singh arrived at Merignac to receive the first Rafale combat aircraft. Singh on Monday left for Paris on a three-day visit during which he will receive the first of the 36 Rafale jets.
Merignac: Defence minister Rajnath Singh received the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets in France’s Merignac. Rajnath Singh had said that everyone is excited about the fact that Rafale aircraft would officially be inducted into the Indian Air Force.
Singh travelled in a French military aircraft from Paris to Merignac, to reach for the handover ceremony. He had boarded the French military aircraft from Velizy - Villacoublay Air Base.
At Merignac, a suburb of the south-western French town of Bordeaux, the Defence Minister will receive the first Rafale fighter jet bearing the tail number RB-01, which is the initial of new Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria who played a crucial role in the signing of the biggest ever defence deal of India worth above Rs 60,000 crore for 36 fighter planes.
Currently, on a three-day visit to France, the Union Defence Minister also met French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday for discussions on a wide range of issues.
On his arrival in Paris, Singh tweeted, "Bonjour Paris! Delighted to be in France. This great nation is India's important strategic partner and our special relationship goes far beyond the realm of formal ties. My visit to France is aimed at expanding the existing strategic partnership between both countries."
He had also earlier said, "Naturally, everyone is excited about Rafale coming to India, you too should witness the ceremony." Earlier in the day, while leaving for France, the Defence Minister said he is looking forward to strengthening ties with the country.
The ceremony to hand over the Rafale jet will take place at a facility of Dassault Aviation in Merignac of Bordeaux, which is at a distance of around 590 km from Paris. Sources said a high-level team of the Indian Air Force is already in France to coordinate with the French officials on the handing over ceremony.
Though Singh will receive the first of the 36 Rafale jets on Tuesday, the first batch of four aircraft will come to India only by May next year.
The Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others. The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons and missiles.
Last Updated 5:02 PM IST