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Historic day for India's forces, says Rajnath Singh as India receives first Rafale jet

Rafale fighter jet displayed at an airport in Bordeaux, France Photograph:( ANI )

WION Web Team Bordeaux, Centre, France Oct 08, 2019, 05.46 PM (IST)

India's Defence minister Rajnath Singh officially received the first Rafale fighter jet from Dassault Aviation at a ceremony in Bordeaux in France on Tuesday.

As he landed at Mérignac airport, Rajnath Singh was welcomed by Dassault Aviation CEO Éric Trappier. India's defence minister took a tour of the Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation's plant at Bordeaux.

During the handover ceremony, French defence minister Florence Parley said, "Rafale is the best technology France has to offer, adding,"sixty-six Rafale jets will be delivered between 2019-2023."

"It is a historic day for India's forces," Rajnath Singh said during the ceremony. "India-France deal was struck on May 23, 2016, after three years it is ready for delivery," Rajnath Singh added.

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India had signed a deal with France for 36 Rafale jets, four jets are expected to arrive in India in May next year, the rest will arrive in September 2022.

The fighter jet is expected to add to India's strike capability giving the Indian Air Force strategic depth. There are 13 India-specific enhancements in the Rafale jet.

The highly anticipated Rafale jet handover ceremony coincides with the 87th foundation day of the Indian Air Force and the festival of Dussehra. The first aircraft with tail number RB-01 was received by a team of Indian Air Force officers led by Air Marshal VR Chaudhary in France last month.

The tail number RB-01 has been named after Indian Air Force chief Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria who had played a vital role in finalising the Rafale deal.