Defence Minister Rajnath Singh receives IAF’s first Rafale fighter jet

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh talks with Dassault Aviation chief pilot Philippe Duchateau before a test flight in a Rafale jet fighter at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac near Bordeaux southwestern France

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh talks with Dassault Aviation chief pilot Philippe Duchateau before a test flight in a Rafale jet fighter at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac near Bordeaux southwestern France

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday received the first of the 36 French-built Rafale fighter jet bearing the tail number RB-001 in the French port city of Bordeaux and performed "Shastra Puja" on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said India has taken a host of measures to attract investments in the defence manufacturing sector and is open to any further tax rationalisation that may be required to encourage the "Make in India" initiative in the sector.

After the talks, Singh travelled to Merignac, a suburb of the south-western French town of Bordeaux, where participated in a tour of the facility of Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation before a symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first Rafale combat jet.

Indian minister Singh was snapped performing Shashtra Puja reportedly for the protection of Rafale jets and securing it from the evil/bad eye as per Indian traditions.

"We do not purchase arms and other defence equipments to threaten any country but to increase our capabilities and strengthen our defences", said the 68-year-old leader.

As he landed at Mérignac airport, Rajnath Singh was welcomed by Dassault Aviation CEO Éric Trappier.

Dressed in a G-suit, Rajnath took to the cockpit of a twin-seater trainer version of the Rafale jet.

The company, which says it already has a Dollars 15-million investment in the country where it also trains 500 engineers annually, claims to be on course to meet its off-set commitments in India as part of the Dassault Aviation deal signed by India in September 2016.

"I am told that Rafale is a French word meaning gust of wind".

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The Indian Air Force is meant to have 42 squadrons but struggles to put together 33, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.

Singh will also undertake a sortie on a Rafale fighter jet after receiving the first of 36 fighter jets in France.

"The credit for India's acquisition of the Rafale jets should go to Prime Minister Narendra Modi".

The minister's visit to Paris coincided with the festival of "Dusshera" in India that celebrates the victory of good over evil. Members of the top military brass of France as well as senior officials of Dassault Aviation were present at the ceremony.

"It is no coincidence that this ceremony falls on Dussehra and also the Indian Air Force's 87th anniversary. We are sure that all timelines would be adhered to, be it jets or weapon systems", Mr. Singh said.

Rafale is technologically more advanced than any fighters that IAF has.

Earlier today, Singh met French President Emmanuel Macron. Rafale is a 4.5 generation aircraft while the Mirage 2000 and the Su-30 MkI which IAF uses are third or fourth-generation fighters. India will receive the first 18 Rafale jets by February 2021.

Singh said the strong cooperation between India and France will continue to grow and contribute to global peace, prosperity and environmental sustainability.

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