After an official handover ceremony of the first jet acquired by the Indian Air Force, defence Minister Rajnath Singh took a sortie in Rafale fighter aircraft. He said that this is not a sign of aggression against anyone, but is part of the country’s self defence strategy.
“By February 2021, we will get delivery of 18 Rafale aircraft and by April-May 2022 we will get all 36 aircraft. This is a part of our self-defence and not a sign of aggression against anyone. It is a deterrent,” the Defence Minister said.
A Shastra Puja was performed on the new aircraft. Just before taking off, the minister displayed the ‘Om’ tilak and laid flowers and a coconut. “It is indeed a great honour to be able to fly in this new fighter jet,” said Rajnath Singh.
This was Rajnath’s second sortie in a fighter jet in a span of a month. He earlier flew in the aircraft LCA Tejas which was recently inducted in the Indian Air Force.
On a three-day visit to France, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the handover event marks a new milestone in Indo-France relations. “I am happy that the delivery of Rafale aircraft is on schedule, I am confident that this will add further strength to our Air Force. I wish cooperation between our two major democracies further increases in all sectors. Today marks a new milestone in India-France strategic partnership. I look forward to taking a sortie in the Rafale aircraf, ” he said
India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. All the 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022, including infrastructure and training of pilots for which the IAF has been undertaking preparations.