India, France to deepen defence ties; agree to combat terrorism

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh meets with Defence Advisor to the French President Admiral Bernard Rogel in Paris Tuesday Oct. 8 2019. Singh is in France for an official handover ceremony of the first Rafale fighter jet acquired by the Indian Ai

Also accompanying Rajnath, Defence secretary Ajay Kumar, assured the company of support and asked them to prepare a document highlighting any "pain points" they foresee in their expansion agenda, which will be taken into consideration. "This is a part of our self-defence and not a sign of aggression against anyone. I never thought that one day I will fly at super sonic speed in an aircraft", Singh said afterwards, according to India's ANI news agency.

Though Singh will receive the first of the 36 Rafale jets on Tuesday, the first batch of four aircraft will come to India only by May next year.

The minister's visit to Paris coincided with the festival of "Dusshera" in India that celebrates the victory of good over evil. "The day superstition ends, we will build it ourselves".

India chose October 8 for receiving the first Rafale jet not only because it is the occasion of Dussehra, but the day is also celebrated as Air Force Day every year. "Our monitoring team has been positioned in France to ensure smooth implementation of this project", he said.

This range of Rafale fighter jets have been specially created to meet the needs of the IAF, which its manufacturer described as a new step in the company's long-standing relationship with India. So far three IAF pilots and two technical officers have trained on French Air Force Rafales as per the terms of the contract.

"But we need to make sure that the Indian tax and customs system is not terrorising us", he said.

"I am told that Rafale is a French word meaning gust of wind".

The minister performed a Shastra Puja on the new aircraft as he emblazoned it with an "Om" tilak and laid flowers and a coconut, just before he was to take off in it for a sortie in the newly-acquired two-seater jet.

Mr. Singh later flew with Ms. Parly to Merignac, where Dassault Aviation's Rafale final assembly facility is located, for the handing over ceremony.

"We have a multi-dimensional relationship with France and the ties are progressing on all fronts".

Defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday that he had "fruitful deliberations" with his French counterpart during which they reviewed the full spectrum of the bilateral defence engagement and reaffirmed their strong commitment to further deepen cooperation to combat terrorism. Defence advisor to the French President, Admiral Bernard Rogel, was also present at the meeting. "Greetings to all IAF personnel and their families on the 87th IAF Day", Singh tweeted.

The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale aircraft procurement was signed between the Government of India and Government of France on September 23, 2016. All 36 of the jets will arrive by spring 2022.

The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base.

"In the defence sector, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is our longest standing export customer and has been flying Dassault aircraft since 1953".

A lot of allegations had been made of corruption in the Rafale deal between India and France, and questions were raised as to why an offsets contract was given to Anil Ambani, who had no experience in manufacturing aircraft.

The first Rafale jet comes with tail number RB 001, with RB denoting the initials of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria who played a key role in striking the deal for the jets in his previous role as IAF deputy chief.

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