‘Unprecedented moment’: Rajnath describes experience of flying on Rafale


'Unprecedented moment': Rajnath describes experience of flying on RafaleMERIGNAC (FRANCE): Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday completed a 30-minute sortie in the twin-seater trainer version of the Rafale fighter aircraft soon after the handover ceremony of the jet in France.

"It was a very comfortable and smooth flight. It was an unprecedented moment, I had never thought that one day I will fly at super sonic speed in a combat aircraft," Rajnath was quoted as saying by news agency ANI after the sortie.

The multirole combat aircraft, flown by Phillipe Duchateau, the chief test pilot of Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of Rafale jets, took off from an airstrip near the facility of the Dassault Aviation at 7.24pm IST. It landed at the airstrip after completing a few manoeuvres at 7.54pm IST.

Duchateau said that the jet flew beyond supersonic speeds with Rajnath seated in the rear of the cockpit.

"The credit for India's acquisition of the Rafale jets should go to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was all due to his decisiveness. India will receive the first 18 Rafale jets by February 2021. By April-May 2022 we will receive all 36 jets," Singh told media channels after the sortie.

"The combat capability of India definitely increases after the acquisition of the Rafale jet. But it is not from the perspective of attack. It is for self-defence," he added.

Just before taking off for the sortie, the minister performed a brief Shastra Puja on the new aircraft as he emblazoned it with an 'Om' tilak and laid flowers and a coconut.

The ceremony coincided with the foundation day of the Indian Air Force as well as the Dussehra celebrations.

On September 19, Singh flew in the Tejas fighter aircraft from the HAL airport in Bengaluru, becoming the first defence minister to fly in the indigenously-built light combat aircraft (LCA).