India gets 1st Rafale fighter aircraft from France

India gets 1st Rafale fighter aircraft from France

Bordeaux, France:India gets 1st Rafale fighter aircraft from France Defence Minister Rajnath Singh here on Tuesday received the first of the 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France on behalf of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Terming the development as "historic", Defence Minister said, "It will go a long way in strengthening strategic-ties between India and France. This is a new milestone in bilateral ties." After receiving the aircraft, Mr Singh performed "Shastrapuja". He will also take a sortie in the aircraft. In September 2016, India had signed an inter-governmental-agreement with France for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. The first batch of four jets will come next May. Commenting on the development, Mr Singh said it will enhance the capabilities of the Indian Air Force and lay a global blueprint for successful defence cooperation between two responsible states. The Minister thanked the French state for providing support and training to Indian Air force pilots.

"I am happy that the delivery of Rafale jet is on schedule.... I wish cooperation between two major democracies further increase in all sectors," the minister added. "We stand alongside the IAF since 1953, we are totally committed to fulfill its requirements for the decades to come and to be part of India's ambitious vision for the future," Maker of Rafale jet Dassault Aviation's Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier said. The jets will be fitted with 13-India specifics enhancements including arming with the SCALP ground attack missiles that have a range of over 300 km. They will be flown by IAF pilots in France for at least 1,500 hours as part of the testing and acceptance process before they come to their home base in Ambala. All 36 aircraft are expected to arrive in India by September 2022. On Wednesday, Mr Singh is scheduled to address CEOs representing leading French defence industry enterprises. As part of a wider 'Make in India' message, Singh will invite them to participate in the DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5 to 8 next year.

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