Rajnath Singh
File image of Rajnath Singh taking a sortie in the Rafale jet from Mérignac in France. Image credit - Twitter

Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday received the official handover of the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

The Rafale fighter aircraft will be inducted in the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Defence minister Singh reached France on Monday with a three-day visit.

After receiving the fighter jet, Singh said the handover event marks a new milestone in the Indo-France relations.

Media reports quoted union minister Singh as saying: “I am happy that the delivery of Rafale aircraft is on schedule, I am confident that this will add further strength to our Air Force.”

“I wish cooperation between our two major democracies further increases in all sectors,” he added.

Union minister Singh performed Shastra puja on the Rafale jet.

On Tuesday, Singh became the first Indian defence minister ever to fly in a Rafale combat aircraft.

He took a sortie in the Rafale jet from Mérignac in France.

Sharing a video of union minister Singh flying in a sortie after receiving the first Rafale jet, union railways and commerce & industries minister Piyush Goyal congratualted the defence minister on his Twitter handle.

“Congratulations to @RajnathSinghi for receiving the first #Rafale jet and becoming the first Defence Minister to fly sortie in the newly inducted fighter jet.”

This was Rajnath Singh’s second sortie in a fighter jet in a span of a month.

According to reports, he earlier flew in the indigenously built aircraft LCA Tejas which was recently inducted in the IAF.

The jet was flown by Philippe Duchateau, the head test pilot of Dassault Aviation.

He also inspected the Dassault assembly line facility in the city.

Before flying to Mérignac, Rajnath Singh met France President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and had a meeting with him where they discussed several issues.

Informing about the meeting, Rajnath Singh tweeted: “Had an excellent meeting with the President of France Mr. @EmmanuelMacron at Elysee Palace in Paris today.”

“We had a comprehensive discussion covering a wide range of issues,” he added.

According to reports, in the meeting, the French President vowed “unrelenting fight” against Islamist terror.
Earlier, after landing in Paris, the union minister had tweeted on Monday: B”onjour Paris!”

“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,” Singh added.

The Indian defence minister also had a meeting with French minister for the armed forces Florence Parly before his meeting with French President.

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