Monday, 14 October, 2019

Rajnath Singh to Perform 'Shastra Puja' After Receiving First Rafale Jet

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh meets with Defence Advisor to the French President Admiral Bernard Rogel in Paris Tuesday Oct. 8 2019. Singh is in France for an official handover ceremony of the first Rafale fighter jet acquired by the Indian Ai Watch : 'Shastra Pooja' by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh upon delivery of first Rafale
Steven Clarke | 09 October, 2019, 21:29

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

The IAF recently resurrected the 17 Squadron "Golden arrows" at Air Force station Ambala which will operate the first squadron of Rafale fighter jets once they arrive in India. Before the discussions with Macron, Singh also met France's Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly.

"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.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Singh called on French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace.

"I had never imagined that I would be flown at supersonic speed; a very comfortable and smooth flight during which I was able to observe the many capabilities of the jet, its air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities", he said, describing his sortie as a memorable and once in a lifetime experience.

"Combat aviation for them is. a strategic asset", said Jean-Paul Palomeros, former chief of staff of the French Air Force and an expert at the CEIS strategic intelligence firm.

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Speaking on the occasion, Singh said that the induction of Rafale fighter jets into the Indian Air Force will give a boost to India's air dominance exponentially, adding that the occasion signifies the depth of the strategic partnership between India and France.

The fighter jet was handed over at Merignac at a facility of Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale jets. "Such achievements encourage us to do more and that will be on my agenda when I meet minister Parly today", Singh said, in reference to the annual Indo-French Defence Dialgoue scheduled for Tuesday evening. The first aircraft with tail number RB-01 was received by a team of Indian Air Force officers led by Air Marshal VR Chaudhary in France last month. Defence advisor to the French President, Admiral Bernard Rogel, was also present at the meeting.

The ceremony coincided with the foundation ceremony of the IAF. The Rafale deal was inked between India and France in 2016. Members of the top military brass of France as well as senior officials of Dassault Aviation were present at the ceremony.

Singh is accompanied by Vinay Mohan Kawatra, India's ambassador to France, as well as Armed Forces personnel including Air Marshall Harjit Singh Arora, Vice Chief of Air Staff; Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, Vice Chief of Naval Staff; and Lieutenant General Rajeev Sabherwal, Vice Chief of Army Staff. India and France had inked a deal in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 jets at a cost of Rs 58,000 crore. All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022, for which the IAF has been reportedly undertaking preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots.

"In the defence sector, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is our longest standing export customer and has been flying Dassault aircraft since 1953". Though Singh will receive the first of the 36 Rafale jets today, the first batch of four aircraft will come to India only by May next year.

Rajnath Singh invited the defence industry leaders to participate in the "Make In India" initiative.

However, he said that India will have to retaliate if someone tries to "destabilise" the country. In a statement, Singh noted that India's "special relationship" with France goes far beyond the realm of formal ties.

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