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.
"As you all know, the inter-governmental agreement for 36 Rafale aircraft procurement was signed between the government of India and the government of France on 23rd September 2016.", he said.
"Our Rafale project monitoring team is has been positioned in France since August 2017 to ensure the smooth implementation of this important project. I am happy that the delivery of the Rafale aircraft is on schedule," he added.
The first of the 36 French-built Rafale fighter jet bearing the tail number RB-001 was formally handed over to India on Tuesday.
The aircraft was received by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the Rafale fighter jet handing-over ceremony at Merignac in the presence of French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly. Members of the top military brass of France as well as senior officials of Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, were also present at the ceremony.
The RB in the tail number denoted the initials of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria who played a key role in the signing of the biggest ever defence deal of India worth above Rs 60,000 crore for 36 fighter planes.
The ceremony coincided with the foundation ceremony of the IAF.
( With inputs from ANI )