Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in line with the tradition of arms worship by Kshatriyas, will perform a shastra puja of Rafale fighter aircraft in France this Dussehra, a festival that marks the victory of the good (embodied by Lord Rama) over the evil (personified by Ravana).
Even when Rajnath Singh was the home minister, he worshipped arms every year on the occasion, Sirf News has learned. Last year, Rajnath Singh had done a shastra puja in Bikaner accompanied by BSF jawans.
— ANI (@ANI) October 19, 2018
The defence minister will first take a flight in a Rafale on 8 October, which is also France’s Air Force Day. On the same day, Rajnath Singh will receive the Rafale jet at Merignac near Bordeaux.
On 9 October, Rajnath Singh will go to Paris with senior Air Force officers. He will be accompanied by Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal HS Arora.
The Rafale fighter jet has been customised according to Indian needs. These changes cost around € 1 billion.
A select group of Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots have been trained to fly the aircraft. They will train 24 more pilots of the IAF in three different phases in made-for-India Rafale jets. Their training will run till 2020 May.
The new Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said about the occasion that Rafale was important for the country and the IAF. The technology of Rafale will be a “game-changer for us”. ACM Bhadauria further said that the IAF was fully prepared to meet the challenges of the current situation. “We were informed about what was going on along the border with Pakistan. We discussed it. We were ready earlier and now the Air Force is ever more ready if we need an airstrike like Balakot,” the Air chief said.
In September 2016, India had signed a deal with the French government and Dassault Aviation for 36 Rafale aircraft. The government’s effort was to procure these aircraft quickly, as there was pressure from the IAF to quickly induct them for operational preparedness.