India gets first Rafale fighter jet from France

Nellie Chapman
October 9, 2019

"These aircraft, which are on course to be delivered on scheduled as per the agreement signed in September 2016, have been created to meet the highly demanding needs of the Indian Air Force, which operates in a very sensitive geopolitical environment", he said. "This is a part of our self-defence and not a sign of aggression against anyone". "I had never thought that one day I will fly at supersonic speed in an aircraft", he said.

In his address at the Rafale handing over Ceremony in Merignac, Singh emphasised on the focus to equip the IAF and enhance its capabilities, saying that the new Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) will make India stronger and will give a boost to its air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attended this handover ceremony at the Dassault assembly line facility in Mérignac, France. We mark this day to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.

Speaking to media after the sortie, Mr. Singh said India is procuring the Rafales for self-defence and as a deterrent.

Half-a-dozen United States aircraft can probably destroy our entire air force, and possibly our entire artillery, tanks and missiles, too.

"Former (French) President Jacques Chirac had laid the basic groundwork for strategic partnership between India and France along with Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee". "Rafale is a French word, which in means "gust of wind". I am sure that the jet will live up to its name", Rajnath Singh said.

Singh has been performing "Shastra Puja" for several years, including during his tenure as the Union home minister between 2014 and earlier this year. Admiral Bernard Rogel, the defence advisor to the French president, was also present at the meeting.

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"It is no coincidence that this ceremony falls on Dussehra and also the Indian Air Force's 87th anniversary". He was accompanied by Armed Forces personnel including Air Marshall Harjit Singh Arora. India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. However, the first batch of jets will arrive in India only in May 2020.

The first squadron of the Rafale aircraft will be stationed at the Ambala Air Force Station in Punjab, considered as a strategic air base given its proximity to the Indo-Pakistan border. It is a reflection of the paramount importance we give to our cooperation with India, said Parly.

"This great nation is India's important strategic partner and our special relationship goes far beyond the realm of formal ties".

"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.

In fact, the first Rafale built was RB-008 and it is on this aircraft that the 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE) will be incorporated, tested and certified before they are incorporated on the remaining jets which will be done after all jets arrive in India.

The first Rafale jet will come with tail number RB 001 denoting the initials of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria, who played a key role in striking the deal for the jets in his previous role as IAF's deputy chief.

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