Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in France on Tuesday that the Rafale deal was possible due to the decisiveness of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rajnath Singh was speaking after he completed a 30-minute sortie on a twin-seater trainer version of the Rafale fighter aircraft.
The multirole combat aircraft, flown by Phillipe Duchateau, the chief test pilot of Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of Rafale jets, took off from an airstrip near the facility of the Dassault Aviation at 7:24 pm Indian Standard Time. It landed back at the airstrip after completing a few manoeuvres at 7:54 pm.
"The credit for India's acquisition of the Rafale jets should go to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was all due to his decisiveness. India will receive the first 18 Rafale jets by February 2021. By April-May 2022 we will receive all 36 jets," Mr Singh said.
The pilot Mr Duchateau informed that the Rafale jet flew beyond supersonic speeds with Mr Singh seated in the rear of the cockpit. The first jet was handed over to him by the French Defence Minister Florence Parly.
"The combat capability of India definitely increases after the acquisition of the Rafale jet. But it is not from the perspective of attack. It is for self-defence," added Mr Singh.
Rajnath Singh took off for the 30-minute sortie in Merignac soon after completing a Shastra Puja after the first of the 36 Rafale jets was handed over to him on the occasion of Dussehra on Tuesday.
The minister is on a three-day visit to France where he received the first Rafale combat aircraft in Merignac from a facility of Dassault Aviation earlier on Tuesday in the presence of the firm's CEO Eric Trappier and the French Defence Minister Parly.
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