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Never thought I will fly at super sonic speed: Rajnath Singh after sortie in Rafale

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Paris, Oct 08: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday took a sortie in Rafale in France after receiving the first jet fighter manufactured by Dassault. India had in 2016 struck a deal with France for a total of 36 Rafale fighters.

Soon after taking delivery of the combat aircraft, Singh flew in the two-seater Rafale jet accompanied by French pilot Philippe Duchateau in the front cockpit with Singh sitting in the rear seat.

Image courtesy - Rajnath Singh/Twitter

" It was a very comfortable and smooth flight. It was an unprecedented moment, I had never thought that one day I will fly at super sonic speed in an aircraft. .This is a part of our self defence and not a sign of aggression against anyone. It is a deterrent," Singh said after 30 min sortie.

"Taking a sortie in Rafale was a memorable and once in a lifetime experience. The induction of Rafale will go a long way in strengthening our national defence. India will receive the first 18 Rafale jets by February 2021. By April-May 2022 we will receive all 36 jets.

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 required infrastructure and training of pilots.

[Rajnath Singh receives first Rafale in France, takes sortie in the new fighter]

"We do not purchase arms and other defence equipments to threaten any country but to increase our capabilities and strengthen our defences. The credit for the acquisition of the Rafale jets must go to PM Narendra Modi . His decisiveness has greatly benefited our national security," Sigh tweeted.

"Our Air Force is the fourth-largest in the world and I believe that the Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft will make us even stronger and will give a boost to India's air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region," Singh said, addressing the gathering after receiving first Rafale Jet.

"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. The RB001 Rafale, denoting the initials of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria who played a key role in striking the deal for the jets in his previous role as IAF deputy chief, was unveiled just moments ago behind him, with the Indian tricolour as its backdrop.

"Today marks a new milestone in the Indo-French strategic partnership and indeed a new high in the bilateral defence cooperation. Such achievements encourage us to do more and that will be on my agenda when I meet minister Parly today," Singh said, in reference to the annual Indo-French Defence Dialgoue scheduled for later on Tuesday in Paris.

From Rafale to Tejas: Fighter aircrafts of the Indian Air Force

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 which 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.

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