Indian Defence minister Rajnath Singh delivers a speech during the ceremony marking the delivery of the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets destined for India, on October 8, 2019 at Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP)
Indian Defence minister Rajnath Singh delivers a speech during the ceremony marking the delivery of the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets destined for India, on October 8, 2019 at Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP)

Merignac: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh took off for a sortie in a Rafale fighter jet from Merignac soon after receiving the first of the 36 jets in France on Tuesday.

Dressed in a G-suit, Rajnath took to the cockpit of a twin-seater trainer version of the Rafale jet. He showed the thumbs up sign before the glass cockpit of the fighter jet shut down upon him.

“India does not purchase arms to threaten any country but to increase its defence capabilities,” he said after his nearly 25-minute sortie in the jet which he described as "very comfortable and smooth".

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 was to take off in it for a sortie.

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,” he said.

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