Wed, 23 Oct 2019

Bordeaux [France], Oct 8 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh flew a sortie on the newly inducted French-built Rafale fighter, which was formally handed over to India here on Tuesday.

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

This was Singh's second sortie in a fighter jet in a span of a month. He earlier flew in the LCA Tejas which was recently inducted in the Indian Air Force (IAF).

"Ready for take-off in the newly inducted Rafale," Singh wrote on Twitter.

Photos accompanying the text show Singh dressed in the IAF flight suit standing before the Rafale received by him.

Shortly before flying a sortie, Singh performed Shastra Puja (worship of weapons) on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami. Videos from the Dassault Aviation facility in France' Merignac show Singh writing an 'Om' on the jet and laying flowers and a coconut on it.

Singh received the aircraft at the 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 ceremony coincided with the foundation day of the Indian Air Force.

Speaking on the occasion, Singh said that the induction of Rafale fighter jets into the Indian Air Force will give a boost to India's air dominance exponentially, adding 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. (ANI)

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