New Delhi. 10 September 2020. It was more than just the induction of Rafale fighter jets into Indian Air Force, for the two Defence Ministers today. The day started with the two meeting at Palam Airforce Station before leaving for the induction at Ambala. Rafale Fighter Aircraft has been formally inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a formal function at Air Force Station, Ambala. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces of France strengthened the already strong bond .
Florence Parly Minister of the Armed Forces of France in her address said,” Together, we are writing a new chapter of Indo-French defence ties. Behind the Rafale, there is above all a friendship. A commonality of interests, of vision, of values in the region.” Her Indian counterpart terming that the Rafale induction reflected close India-France strategic relations said, “we have cooperated closely in a number of areas to enhance our defence cooperation. As part of the transfer of technology agreement, 6 Scorpene submarines are being built at the Mazagaon Docks. On the basis of this partnership, the first submarine, INS Kalvari was commissioned in 2017.” He also highlighted the Indo-French cooperation in dealing with common challenges like maritime security and piracy in the Indo-Pacific region and IOR.
The French Minister stated that the induction of Rafale into the IAF is a symbol of strong ties between the two countries which is rock solid and time tested. She said now, in military terms, India will acquire a world class capability that will give New Delhi an incredible sovereignty and in strategic terms it will give India an edge over the entire region to defend itself. She also assured timely delivery of the 31 remaining aircrafts and said France is fully committed to the Make in India initiative which has been a reality for French industry for several years particularly in defence sector like in submarines.
Rajnath Singh said that the induction of Rafale was historic moment and a very important milestone in the history of the IAF. He said, the Rafale deal was a game changer for India’s national security and its induction is a strong message for the world and especially for those who challenge India’s sovereignty. He reiterated the resolve of not compromising India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity under any circumstances and the country’s determination to make all possible preparations for it. “The intentions of military are as strong as it can be” he said and added “strengthening our defence is aimed at achieving international peace and stability and we do not want to take any step that can endanger international peace. We have the same expectation of our neighbours and other countries of the world.”
Rajnath also pitched for French investments in the Indian defence manufacturing sector. He said in response to the call for ‘Self-reliant initiative’ by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, many policy reforms have been initiated such as manufacturing of defence equipment under the strategic-Partnership model, enhancing FDI up to 74% by automatic route, establishment of two defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and reforms in Offsets. “I am confident that French defence industries will take advantage of this and France will continue to be our partner in our journey of indigenization”, he said.
He praised the IAF personnel for the swift and decisive action taken by them near LAC recently. He said the rapid deployment of IAF assets at forward bases created a trust that our Air Force was fully prepared to meet its operational obligations. Singh also lauded the contribution of IAF to the country’s efforts during Covid-19 pandemic.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held discussions with his French counterpart, Florence Parly. In a tweet, Singh said they have decided to continue working on identified industrial areas and issues of military to military cooperation. He has invited French manufacturers to invest in India’s defence corridors. The Minister said India and France have a lot in common as two of the great democracies of the world and India looks forward to enhance the bilateral relationship even further.