Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to receive first Rafale jet in France today; full schedule, timings

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday and receive the first of the 36 Rafale aircraft in the French port city of Bordeaux, where he will perform 'Shastra Puja' on the occasion of Dussehra and take a sortie in the fighter jet.

Singh, who is in Paris as a part of a two-day visit to France, will also fly a sortie in the Rafale fighter jet and perform 'Shastra Puja' on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami, after meeting France's President Emmanuel Macron. After these, the Defence Minister will proceed to Bordeaux to participate in the Rafale fighter jet handing-over ceremony at Merignac along with the French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly.

Here's a look at Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's schedule:

10 AM, PARIS: Meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron (1:30 PM IST)

2 PM, MERIGNAC: Handing-over ceremony of the Rafale aircraft; 'Shastra Puja' on the occasion of Vijayadashami; Flying a sortie in the Rafale fighter jet (5:30 PM IST)

7 PM, PARIS: Meeting with the French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly (10:30 PM IST)

Rajnath Singh will undertake a sortie in the aircraft and hold discussions with the country's top leadership during his time in the European country. "Bonjour Paris! Delighted to be in France. This great nation is India's important strategic partner and our special relationship goes far beyond the realm of formal ties. My visit to France is aimed at expanding the existing strategic partnership between both the countries," the Defence Minister tweeted.

On October 9, Wednesday, Rajnath Singh will address the CEOs of the French defence industry during which he is likely to urge them to participate in the indigenous 'Make in India' campaign and the Defence Expo to be held in Lucknow in February next year.

India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. While the formal handover ceremony takes place this week, the first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to their home base in India by May 2020. All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022, for which the IAF has been reportedly undertaking preparations, including readying the required infrastructure and training of pilots.

The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. The manufacturers describe it as a fully versatile aircraft that can carry out all combat aviation missions to achieve air superiority and air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes, and nuclear deterrence.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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