India received its first Dassault Rafale multi-role fighter on October 8, which is the 87th Indian Air Force Day.
Rajnath Singh, Defense Minister of India, formally received the Indian Air Force's (IAF's) first fighter from France at a ceremony held at
Merignac airport, Bordeaux city, France. India will receive the first 18 Rafale jets by February 2021.
"By April-May 2022, the country will receive all 36 jets," Singh said.
The minister took a tour of Dassault Aviation's plant before the symbolic ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first Rafale combat jet.
After a traditional Indian Shastra Puja (weapons' worship) forming a part of Dussehra celebrations, Singh flew a sortie in the new fighter.
"Taking a sortie in Rafale was a memorable and once in a lifetime experience. The induction of Rafale will go a long way in strengthening our national defense," the minister said.
In September 2016, India signed a €7.87 billion (INR 59,000 crore) deal with the French government for purchase of 36 Rafale combat aircraft. Heavily customised for India, it will get 14 India-specific enhancements.
According to France-based La Tribune newspaper, New Delhi and Paris are holding initial level negotiations on India's buy of 36 more Rafale aircraft.
The fighters are reportedly equipped with SCALP missiles having a range of over 300km. Rafales will be fitted with the 150-km range Meteor Beyond Visual Range missile providing a no-escape zone three times greater than the AMRAAM missile.
France has guaranteed performance-based logistics support- 75 per cent of the fleet will be airworthy at any given time. This is a first ever for India where the air-worthiness is part of the purchase agreement, according to Indian media.