India has received the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets ordered from France in 2016 in a multi-billion-dollar deal that Paris hopes will unlock more sales despite being tainted by suspicion of corruption.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh joined his French counterpart Florence parly for a ceremony at the Dassault Aviation Factory in Merignac, near the southwestern city of Bordeaux, on the Indian air force’s birthday.
Singh also blessed the first Rafale fighter jet by making the Hindu ‘Om’ symbol and offering coconut and flowers.
India, is seeking to renew its ageing fleet of jaguar, Mirage 2000, Sukhoi 30, and MIG 21 and 27 jets.
It signed a deal in 2016 to buy 36 Rafales from France, but delivery has been held up by corruption allegations leveled by the opposition congress party.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accused congress of undermining the country’s security, saying the Kashmir skirmishes would have ended “better” for India if it had had the Rafales. Pakistan Air Force had shot down two Indian military jets on February 27 near the line of control.