Rafale reports for duty
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh officially received the first Rafale fighter jet made for India by the French company Dassault. He attended the handover ceremony along with his French counterpart Florence Parly at aircraft maker Dassault Aviation facility in Merignac, southwestern France.
Singh performed a Shastra Puja on the new aircraft as he emblazoned it with an ‘Om’ tilak and laid flowers and coconut, just before he was to take off in it for a sortie in the newly-acquired two-seater jet.
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.