India receives first Rafale fighter jet from France (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Dassault Aviation has delivered the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets ordered for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2016. India’s defense minister was quick to seize an opportunity to try out the new addition to the fleet.

Rajnath Singh led the Indian delegation to Mérignac, France, for the handover ceremony of the French-built warplane. The date coincides with the birthday of the IAF and falls just after a Hindu religious festival for worshiping tools and weapons, which gave the Indian official a chance to perform a good luck ritual for the jet.

The minister also tried out the jet, jumping in the second seat and letting the lead test pilot from Dassault take it for a short flight, local media reported.

The French producer used the opportunity to highlight the long record of military cooperation it has with the Asian powerhouse.

India purchased the French aircraft as part of New Delhi’s effort to diversify its fleet. India initially wanted to add as many as 126 new light fighter jets to its arsenal, but the ambitious plan had to be adjusted due to rising costs and budgetary considerations. The delivery of 36 Rafales is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

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