- Rajnath Singh will receive first of 36 long-awaited Rafale fighter jets
- The Defence Minister will undertake a sortie in the aircraft
- He will hold discussions with France's top leadership
Here are the 10 things to expect from Rajnath Singh's visit to France:
Rajnath Singh will officially accept the first Rafale aircraft from the French government at the Merignac air base near Bordeaux in the presence of top government officials on Tuesday.
The handover will happen at a time when India is celebrating Dussehra, a festival signifying the victory of good over evil, as well as the 87th Indian Air Force Day. "Greetings to all @IAF_MCC personnel and their families on the 87th IAF Day. The IAF is the shining example of exemplary courage, fortitude, determination and impeccable service to our nation. These men and women in Blue have the ability to touch the sky with grit and glory," the Defence Minister tweeted this morning.
Defence Ministry officials said Rajnath Singh will also perform the "Shastra Puja" -- a ritual involving the worship of arms -- during the acceptance ceremony.
During his sortie, the Defence Minister will sit in the rear cockpit while a French pilot flies the customised Rafale fighter jet with tail number RB-01.
The RB in the tail number stands for newly appointed IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhaduria, in recognition of his role in striking the Rafale deal in 2016.
Before leaving for Bordeaux, Rajnath Singh is expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron for discussions on Indo-French cooperation in defence-related issues.
On Wednesday, Rajnath Singh will also hold the annual defence dialogue with the French Minister of Armed Forces and meet heads of the French defence industry.
He is expected to urge the country's defence industry leaders to participate in the "Make In India" initiative and extend an invitation to the DefExpo in Lucknow from February 5 to 8.
In a tweet posted earlier today, Rajnath Singh had said that he was looking forward to taking Indo-French ties to a whole new level through his visit.
India had signed an agreement with France for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. The first batch of four jets will come next May.