Shortly after taking a sortie in Rafale, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that the jet has increased combat capability of Indian Air Force (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.
"It was a very comfortable and smooth flight. It was an unprecedented moment, I had never thought that one day I will fly at supersonic speed in an aircraft," Singh added.
The jet was flown by Philippe Duchateau, head test pilot of Dassault Aviation.
The first of the 36 French-built Rafale fighter jet bearing the tail number RB-001 was formally handed over to India on Tuesday. Singh received the jet at the handing-over ceremony in Bordeaux, France in the presence of French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly.
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.
Rajnath performed Shastra Puja (worship of weapons) on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami after receiving the first of the 36 Rafale jets in the French port city of Bordeaux today.
( With inputs from ANI )