Rajnath Singh to fly Rafale sortie on October 8 in Paris

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will fly a sortie in a Rafale fighter jet on October 8 from a French airbase in Paris to gain first-hand experience of the aircraft, official sources said on Thursday. Singh is scheduled to travel to Paris on October 7 on a three-day visit, primarily to receive the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets.

The ceremony to hand over the first Rafale jet will take place on October 8, the foundation day of the Indian Air Force, the sources said. After receiving the aircraft, the defence minister will take a sortie in the aircraft, they said.

Top military brass of France as well as senior officials of Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, will also be present at the handing over ceremony. In July 2017, the then IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, flew a Rafale jet at the Saint-Dizier airbase during his visit to France.

On October 9, Singh is scheduled to hold extensive talks with top defence brass of the French government on ways to further deepen defence and security cooperation between the two countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France in August during which both the sides resolved to further enhance the already close defence ties between the two countries.

Sources said a high-level team of the Indian Air Force is already in Paris to coordinate with French officials on the handing over ceremony. 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.

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