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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

‘Not aggression but self defence’: Rajnath after India gets first Rafale

The Defence Minister was speaking after he completed a sortie on a Rafale jet. The plane was flown by a French pilot as Indian pilots have just begun training on the India-specific Rafale aircraft.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2019 05:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gestures before a test flight in a Rafale jet fighter at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gestures before a test flight in a Rafale jet fighter at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.(AP)
         

India’s acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France is not a sign of aggression against anyone, but is part of the country’s self defence strategy, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday.

“By February 2021, we will get delivery of 18 Rafale aircraft and by April-May 2022, we will get all 36 aircraft. This is a part of our self defence and not a sign of aggression against anyone. It is a deterrent,” Singh said.

The Defence Minister was speaking after he completed a sortie on a Rafale jet accompanied by French pilot Philippe Duchateau in the front cockpit with Singh sitting in the rear seat. The plane was flown by a French pilot as Indian pilots have just begun training on the India-specific Rafale aircraft. Duchateau is the head test pilot of Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale.

Also Read | A historic day, says Rajnath Singh as he receives first Rafale jet in France

Earlier in the day, Singh formally received the first Rafale fighter jet from the series of 36 aircraft bought from France at Dassault Aviation’s Merignac air base near Bordeaux in the southwestern part of the country. Soon after taking delivery of the combat aircraft, Singh flew in the two-seater Rafale.

“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 a combat aircraft,” the Defence Minister said.

India will be the fourth country, after France, Egypt and Qatar, to fly the Rafale. The Rafale fighter jets will be a crucial enhancement to India’s Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft fleet. The Rafale combat aircraft, however, cannot be compared with the J-20, an indigenously developed fifth-generation aircraft of China. The J-20 is soon set to be inducted in large numbers into the People’s Liberation Army Air Force of China after it was successfully developed and displayed.

Tailor-made for the Indian Air Force, the Rafale fighter jets have India-specific enhancements including helmet-mounted sight, radar warning receivers, flight data recorders with enough storage for 10 hours of data, infrared search and track systems, jammers, cold engine start capability to operate from high-altitude bases and towed decoys to lure incoming missiles away.