New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday, while leaving for France on a three-day visit, said he is looking forward to deepen ties with the country.
"Leaving New Delhi for Paris on a three-day visit to France. Shall attend the Annual Defence Dialogue and the Induction Ceremony of Rafale. India-France bilateral relations have made tremendous progress in recent years. Looking forward to further and deepen these ties," he stated in a tweet.
During his visit, he will receive the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets manufactured for India. On October 8, the Defence Minister is scheduled to meet the French President Emmanuel Macron.
After the meeting, Singh will proceed to Bordeaux to participate in the Rafale fighter jet handing-over ceremony at Merignac along with the French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly.
Singh will also perform the 'Shastrapuja' on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami and fly a sortie in the Rafale fighter jet.
"As per plans, a French pilot will fly in the front cockpit while Singh will sit in the rear cockpit. The first Indian Rafale fighter jet with tail no RB-01 will be used for the sortie," sources in IAF said.
The tail number has the initials of newly-appointed IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria in recognition of his role in the around Rs 60,000 crore deal signed in 2016 for 36 planes.
The Defence Minister will also hold the annual defence dialogue with the French Minister of Armed Forces during his visit.
On October 9, Singh will address the CEOs of the French defence industry during which he is likely to urge them to participate in 'Make in India' and the Defence Expo to be held in Lucknow in February next year.