The French engine manufacturer of the Rafale fighter jet, Safran, told Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday that the company should not be "terrorised" with India's tax and customs rules, PTI reported. India's defense minister was quick to seize an opportunity to try out the new addition to the fleet.
As he landed at Mérignac airport, Rajnath Singh was welcomed by Dassault Aviation CEO Éric Trappier. "Such achievements encourage us to do more and that will be on my agenda when I meet minister Parly", said Singh, just before performing the "Shastra Puja" on the new Rafale aircraft.
In fact, the first Rafale built was RB-008 and it is on this aircraft that the 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE) will be incorporated, tested and certified before they are incorporated on the remaining jets which will be done after all jets arrive in India. We will get 18 Rafale jets by February 2021 and rest 18 will get all 36 jets by April-May 2022.
Rajnath Singh expressed confidence that the jet will add strength to the forces. "India-France deal was struck on May 23, 2016, after three years it is ready for delivery", Rajnath Singh added. The first four Rafale jets will arrive in India by May 2020. While being inducted into the Air Force, it was protected with nimbu-nariyal (lemon-coconut).
Earlier today, Singh met French President Emmanuel Macron.
The highly anticipated Rafale jet handover ceremony coincides with the 87th foundation day of the Indian Air Force and the festival of Dussehra.
"I had never imagined that I would be flown at supersonic speed; a very comfortable and smooth flight during which I was able to observe the many capabilities of the jet, its air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities", he said, describing his sortie as a memorable and once in a lifetime experience.
"The defence minister will participate in the Rafale handing over ceremony at Merignac along with French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly". Defence advisor to the French President, Admiral Bernard Rogel, was also present at the meeting.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called it a "historic day for Indian forces", one which signifies the strengthening of ties between India and France.
Recognising that India-France partnership in the Indian Ocean Region is crucial for preserving and promoting common strategic and security interests in the region, Singh and Parly noted the continuing implementation of actions outlined in the Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the IOR. The members of the top military brass of France, senior officials of Dassault Aviation and the makers of Rafale were also present during the Shastra Puja ceremony.
After performing the puja, he flew a sortie in it.
With barely 32 squadrons of fighter aircraft now in inventory, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is staring at a massive problem.
"In the defence sector, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is our longest standing export customer and has been flying Dassault aircraft since 1953".
The first squadron of the Rafale aircraft will be stationed at the Ambala Air Force Station in Punjab, considered as a strategic air base given its proximity to the Indo-Pakistan border.