The induction of Rafale fighter jets into the Indian Air Force will give a boost to India’s air dominance exponentially, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday at the handing-over ceremony of the Rafale jet, and added that the occasion signifies the depth of the strategic partnership between India and France.
“Our airforce is the fourth largest in the world and I believe that the Rafale medium multi-roll Combat aircraft will make us even stronger and give a boost to India’s air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region,” Singh said.
“It is a historic and landmark day for Indian armed forces. This ceremony signifies the depth of the strategic partnership between India and France,” he added.
The Defence Minister said that he is happy that the delivery of Rafale aircraft is on schedule. Manufactured by French firm Dassault Aviation, the aircraft will arrive in India only next year after refitment to Indian specifications and training of pilots and personnel.
The ceremony coincided with the foundation ceremony of the Indian Air Force.
Rajnath performed Shastra Puja (worship of weapons) after receiving the first of the 36 Rafale jets in the French port city of Bordeaux on Tuesday. He wrote “Om” on the jet and presented flowers and a coconut on it.
He flew a sortie on the newly inducted French-built Rafale, which was formally handed over to India here on Tuesday. The jet was flown by Philippe Duchateau, head test pilot of Dassault Aviation.
This was Rajnath’s second sortie in a fighter jet in a span of a month. He earlier flew in the LCA Tejas which was recently inducted in the IAF.
After the sortie, the minister said that the jet has increased combat capability of the IAF and the country is doing this for “self-defence”.
“The handing over ceremony of Rafale was completed after pooja. The French defence minister has handed over Rafale to me. We will get 18 Rafale jets by February 2021 and rest 18 will get all 36 jets by April-May 2022. With the induction of Rafale, the combat capability of the Air Force has increased. Since we are increasing our capability, it does not mean that we are doing this to attack anyone but for self-defence. It will be like a deterrent,” he told reporters here.