Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who reached France's capital city of Paris for a three-day visit on Monday, met French President Emmanuel Macron today, hours before he will receive the first of the 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. After reaching Paris, Singh tweeted that his visit to France was aimed at enhancing ties between India and France.
Bonjour Paris!— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) October 7, 2019
Delighted to be in France. This great nation is India’s important strategic partner and our special relationship goes far beyond the realm of formal ties.
My visit to France is aimed at expanding the existing strategic partnership between both the countries.
The Defence Minister will today receive first of the 36 Rafale jets but India will officially get the first batch of four jets by May 2020. Before meeting Macron, Singh met the French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and the Defence Adviser to the French President, Admiral Bernard Rogel.
Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh has reached the Elysée Palace to call on the President of France @EmmanuelMacron.— रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) October 8, 2019
He is meeting the Minister for the Armed Forces, Ms Florence Parly and the Defence Advisor to the French President, Admiral Bernard Rogel. pic.twitter.com/pBK4oIA74l
During his meeting with the French President, both the leaders discussed defence and security issues. Singh will soon depart for the port city of Bordeaux to receive the first Rafale fighter jet. "Raksha Mantri will participate in the Rafale fighter aircraft handing over ceremony at Merignac along with French minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly," a ministry of defence spokesperson said.
France: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to travel in a French military plane (in pic) to Mérignac, from Paris, to receive the first Rafale combat aircraft. pic.twitter.com/PLjnVmObno— ANI (@ANI) October 8, 2019
The day is of a great significance for India's defence capabilities. The Defence Minister is also expected to perform 'Shashtra puja' ceremony today after receiving the first Rafale jet, the government officials confirmed. "He will also perform the Shastra Puja on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami and fly a sortie in the Rafale fighter aircraft," the spokesperson said.
Members of the top military brass of France as well as senior officials of Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, will also be present at the ceremony. The minister will tomorrow address CEOs representing leading French defence industry enterprises, and will invite them to take part in in the DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5 to 8 in 2020.
India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. While the formal handover ceremony takes place this week, the first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to their home base in India by May 2020. 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.
Key Features of Rafale
The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. The manufacturers describe it as a fully versatile aircraft which can carry out all combat aviation missions to achieve air superiority and air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.
Edited by Manoj Sharma (with PTI inputs)