Sure Rafale Will Live up to Meaning of Its Name, Says Rajnath Singh at Handover Ceremony
The minister performed a brief Shastra Puja on the new aircraft as he emblazoned it with an 'Om' tilak and laid flowers and a coconut, just before he took off in it for a sortie.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stands by a Rafale jet fighter in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France. (image: AP)
New Delhi: Defence minster Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said he hoped the Rafale fighter jet would live up to its name as he explained how the multi-role warplanes purchased from France will strengthen the Indian Air Force after taking delivery of the first of the 36 aircraft.
"I have been told that the French word Rafale means ‘andhi’ in Hindi or gust of wind. I am sure that the aircraft will live up to its name. Our air force is the fourth-mightiest in the world, and I believe that acquisition of Rafale fighter jet will further boost India's dominance of the skies to ensure peace and security in the region," he said at the handover ceremony held at Dassault Aviation’s facility in Merignac, southwestern France.
The minister performed a brief Shastra Puja on the new aircraft as he emblazoned it with an 'Om' tilak and laid flowers and a coconut, just before he took off in it for a sortie. He was joined by senior representatives of the Indian Armed Forces to mark the induction ceremony.
The RB001 Rafale, 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, was unveiled just moments ago behind him, with the Indian tricolour as its backdrop.
He also paid tributes to former French President Jacques Chirac and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during a speech ahead of receiving the fighter aircraft.
Singh said October 8 is a milestone for Indo-France strategic partnership and marks a new high in bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries. "Former President Jacques Chirac had laid the basic groundwork for strategic partnership between India and France along with Prime Minister Vajpayee," said Singh.
Singh thanked French aviation major Dassault, which manufactures the Rafale, for sticking to the delivery timeline of the fighter jet. "I am sure the delivery of the remaining aircraft and the weapon systems will be on time. The acquisition of Rafale by India will ensure global peace, prosperity and environmental sustainability in the region," he added.
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