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Committed to support India’s defence and industrial growth, says French minister

Stating that Rafale fighters, which were formally inducted into the IAF at Ambala airbase on Thursday, gave the IAF an edge over the entire region in terms of defence capability, French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly said the combat-proven aircraft provided an invaluable sovereign tool to India to meet its security requirements.

She said the aircraft not only adds to India’s military capability but also strengthens the country’s technological and industrial base. She said France is fully committed to the ‘Make in India’ initiative and several more French establishments would be involved in various projects in India.

Stressing that France fully supports India’s candidature for the United Nations Security Council, Parly added that the induction of the Rafale is testimony to the strong Indo-French strategic partnership, which would further strengthen in the coming post-vivid times. She added that the partnership is based on mutual trust and commonality of interests.

Terming Rafale to be a game-changer for India’s national security, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the induction of the aircraft sends a strong message for the world, especially for those who challenge India’s sovereignty.

Reiterating the resolve of not compromising India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity under any circumstances, the defence minister said that the intentions of the military are as strong as it can be and strengthening our defence is aimed at achieving international peace and stability. “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,” he said.

Stating that the IAF needs to look into new emerging challenges in the field of terrorism, NBC, artificial intelligence and unconventional warfare, he said that the defence capabilities need to be constantly upgraded.

He said India’s commitments are not just restricted to own borders but have expanded into the Indian Ocean Region as well as the Indo-Pacific, and India’s role has been well-received internationally.

He also appreciated the IAF’s role and deployment in difficult times and said that the IAF is a strong element for deterrence.

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said the Rafale induction could not have come at a more appropriate time, given the current security situation. He added that that the aircraft has been operationally integrated with rest of the IAF fleet and the crew has undergone rigorous training.

Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, Defence Secretary, Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, Secretary Department of Defence Research and Development and Chairman DRDO, Dr G Satheesh Reddy, along with other senior officers of Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces were present.

The French delegation included Emmanuel Lenain Ambassador of France to India, Air General Eric Autellet, Vice Chief of the Air Staff of the French Air Force and other senior officials as well as senior functionaries of French defence industries, including Eric Trappier, Chairman and Chief Executive of Dassault Aviation and Eric Beranger, CEO, MBDA, were also present.

The first batch of five Rafale aircraft had arrived at Ambala on July 27 and was inducted into the IAF’s No.17 Squadron, The Golden Arrows. .The defence minister presented the induction scroll to the squadron’s commanding officer, Group Captain Harkeerat Singh.