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

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

Singh and French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly held the second ministerial level Annual Defence Dialogue between the two countries in Paris on Tuesday night after France formally handed over the first Rafale fighter jet to India.

Singh had on Tuesday received India's first Rafale jet from France, at a ceremony in Paris, and flew a sortie in it.

The RB001 Rafale, denoting the initials of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria who played a key role in striking the deal for the jets in his previous role as IAF deputy chief, was unveiled with the Indian tricolour as its backdrop. While being inducted into the Air Force, it was protected with nimbu-nariyal (lemon-coconut). The handover was followed by Shastra Puja - the traditional worship of weapons during Dussehra.

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.

Rajnath had flown a sortie on India's indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) airport in Bengaluru last month. "You are going to a foreign country and doing all this drama".

"The handing over ceremony of Rafale was completed after pooja".

The Indian Air Force is meant to have 42 squadrons but struggles to put together 33, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "It will be like a deterrent", he told reporters here. "My visit to France is aimed at expanding the existing strategic partnership between both the countries", he had said. "It was a very comfortable and smooth flight..." "I had never thought that one day I will fly at supersonic speed in an aircraft", he said.

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France in August, during which both sides resolved to further enhance defence ties. "His decisiveness has greatly benefited our national security", he said.

During the handover ceremony, French defence minister Florence Parley said, "Rafale is the best technology France has to offer, adding,"sixty-six Rafale jets will be delivered between 2019-2023". It is also the 87th Air Force Day, therefore the day becomes symbolic in so many ways", Singh added.

France remains a major defense supplier for India.

"I hope the strong cooperation between two important and large democracies will continue to grow and contribute to global peace, prosperity and environmental sustainability".

Standing next to the plane, decorated in the colours of the Indian flag, Singh hailed a "historic and landmark day for the Indian armed forces", noting the Rafale "will add to the strength of our air force".

The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale aircraft procurement was signed between the Government of India and Government of France on September 23, 2016.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Singh called on French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace. He also met the Parly and Defence Advisor to the President of France, Admiral Bernard Rogel. He also discussed his meeting with PM Modi.

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