A day after India got the delivery of Rafale fighter jet RB-001, Dassault Aviation, the French company that manufactures the jets, has released the first airborne photographs of the second aircraft with the tail number RB-002. According to the deal, out of the 36 Rafale jets, the first batch of four aircraft are expected to arrive in India in May next year. The rest of the aircraft will arrive by September 2022.
RB stands for the newly appointed IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhaduria, in recognition of his role in striking the Rs 59,000-crore Rafale deal in 2016.
The first of the 36 high-precision Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft with 13 India-specific enhancements sought by the Indian Air Force was handed over to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is in France on a 3-day trip.
The handover ceremony took place on Tuesday at a facility of Dassault Aviation in the Merignac area of Bordeaux, around 590 km from Paris.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mr Singh performed the Shastra Puja - the traditional worship of weapons on Dussehra.
Later, Rajnath Singh took a 20-minute sortie in the aircraft. A French pilot flew the customised aircraft with tail number RB-001.
After flying in the Rafale jet, Mr Singh praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his "decisiveness".
"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," news agency ANI quoted Mr Singh as saying.
"This aircraft marks a massive enhancement in the Indian Air Force combat capability but that enhancement is not for attack purposes but as a deterrent for self defence. And, the credit for this milestone goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose decisiveness has made this crucial air enhancement possible today," he added.