Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday left for Paris on a three-day visit during which he will receive first of the 36 Rafale jets.
According to a report in ANI, Rajnath Singh said everybody is excited about today’s event where the Rafale aircraft will be officially inducted into the Indian Air Force.
“Naturally, everyone is excited about Rafale coming to India, you too should witness the ceremony,” Rajnath said.
Earlier in the day, while leaving for France, the Defence Minister said he is looking forward to strengthening ties with the country.
“Leaving New Delhi for Paris on a three-day visit to France. Shall attend the Annual Defence Dialogue and the Induction Ceremony of Rafale. India-France bilateral relations have made tremendous progress in recent years. Looking forward to further and deepen these ties,” he stated in a tweet.
After receiving the jet, Singh will perform ‘Shastra Puja’ (worship of weapons) on the occasion of Dussehra and then will take a sortie in the aircraft, officials said.
The ceremony to hand over the Rafale jet will take place at a facility of Dassault Aviation in Merignac of Bordeaux, which is at a distance of around 590 km from Paris.
Though Singh will receive the first of the 36 Rafale jets on Tuesday, the first batch of four aircraft will come to India only by May next year.
Later in the day, Singh will also hold the annual defence dialogue with Parly during which both sides will explore ways to further deepen defence and security ties.
On October 9, Singh will address the CEOs of leading French defence firms during which he is likely to urge them to participate in “Make in India” initiatives in defence sector in India.
Defence and security ties between India and France have been on an upswing in the last few years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France in August during which both sides resolved to further enhance the already close defence ties.
Sources said a high-level team of the Indian Air Force is already in France to coordinate with the 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 59,000 crore.
The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons and missiles.
The IAF has already completed preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots, to welcome the fighter aircraft.
The sources said the first squadron of the aircraft will be deployed at Ambala air force station, considered one of the most strategically located bases of the IAF. The Indo-Pak border is around 220 km from there.
The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.
A number of IAF teams have already visited France to help Dassault Aviation incorporate India-specific enhancements on-board the fighter aircraft.
The Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others.