New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who will be travelling to France on October 7 on a three-day visit, primarily to receive the first Rafale fighter jet, will perform ‘Shastra Pooja’ (worship of weapons) on the occasion of Dussehra in the French port city of Bordeaux, officials said.
Singh will perform 'Shastra Puja' after receiving the first Rafale fighter jet at Merignac suburb of Bordeaux on Tuesday. After performing puja, he will take a sortie in the aircraft, the officials said.
Before leaving for Bordeaux on the morning of Tuesday, Singh will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and is expected to discuss issues relating to defence and security ties between the two countries.
The ceremony to hand over the Rafale jet will take place at a facility of Dassault Aviation, the makers of the aircraft, in Merignac of Bordeaux, which is at a distance of around 590 km from Paris.
"The defence minister will participate in the Rafale handing over ceremony at Merignac along with French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly. He will also perform the Shastra puja on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami and fly a sortie in the Rafale fighter aircraft," Defence Ministry Spokesperson Bharat Bhusan Babu said.
Later, Singh will hold the annual defence dialogue with Parly during which both sides will explore ways to further deepen defence and security ties.
Even though the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be receiving the first Rafale fighter jet in France, the aircraft will come to India only in May next year.
“The first four of 36 Rafale jets will come to India by May next year and the aircraft will significantly enhance the IAF's combat prowess,” Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria said on Friday.
In his first press conference after taking charge of the top post on September 30, Bhadauria said the acquisition of the Rafale aircraft and the S-400 missile systems will give major boost to IAF's operational capability.
India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons and missiles.
(With inputs from PTI)