France delivers to India its first Rafale [fr]

Press release issued by the French Ministry for the Armed Forces.

Mérignac, France - 9 October 2019

H.E. Ms Florence Parly, French Minister for the Armed Forces, on 8th October 2019 travelled to the Dassault Aviation plant in Bordeaux for the ceremony to hand over the first Rafale to India.

The first delivery of a series of 36 aircraft to come, this phase symbolizes the excellent relations between France and India.

The Hon’ble Minister of Defence of the Republic of India, Shri Rajnath Singh, undertook a visit to France on 8th-9th October, 2019 on the occasion of the delivery of the first Rafale combat aircraft to India.

This visit witnessed a ceremony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Mérignac, France. Ms Florence Parly received Shri Rajnath Singh, on its premises in the presence of Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO, Mr Eric Trappier.

This visit is a major step in the relationship with India, one of France’s main strategic partners in the Indo-Pacific. In the coming years, 36 Rafale jets will be delivered to India under an intergovernmental agreement signed on 23rd September 2016 between the French and Indian governments.

Following the Rafale-delivery ceremony, the two ministers held talks as part of the second annual Indo-French defence dialogue. They discussed numerous prospects of the already rich bilateral defence cooperation, as well as security issues in the Indo-Pacific region, on which France recently published its defence strategy.

Speech by H.E. Mrs Florence Parly, French Minister for the Armed Forces

– Check against delivery –

Hon’ble Minister,
Mr Prefect,
Mr Ambassador of India to France,
Mr Chairman,
Officers, non-commissioned officers, aviators,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Today is not just another day.

It’s not just another day because this is the first time that I have the pleasure of welcoming and meeting Mr Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence of the Republic of India. Hon’ble Minister, your presence by our side today is an honour. I welcome you and your entire delegation.

What better backdrop to welcome you in than the Dassault Aviation plant, and what more auspicious day than that on which your country will be handed over the keys to the Rafale: the best combat aircraft in the market, a tool par excellence of air superiority, protection of your territory and your people, in a nutshell, a tool par excellence of sovereignty?

Indeed, what better day than 8th October, which is the founding day of the Indian Air Force, which is celebrating today its 87th anniversary at the service of its country? It is an auspicious day among all, because the Hindu festival of Dussehra has fallen today, 8th October, celebrated all over the world; a promise of success, a promise of luck for the armed forces.

All these are not coincidences. They reflect first and foremost the vital importance that we attach to our relations with India. France had the opportunity of reiterating this when the President of the French Republic received Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chantilly and Biarritz. We have chosen India. It is a choice guided by reason, it is a choice guided by the heart.

The choice guided by reason was well-explained by the President of the French Republic when he detailed its rationale during his Garden Island speech in Australia. In a troubled region witnessing a resurgence of power politics, we choose democracy, we choose multilateralism, we choose an international rules-based order, the rule of law. We also choose mediation, balance, stability.

As for our choice being guided by the heart, allow me to express it today: our two nations have quite a few affinities, starting with the taste for independence and sovereignty; they have cultural ties and those of friendship, which go well beyond cold, strategic calculations; and they share the same attraction for the spiritual: did the French poet, Aragon, not evoke India’s fragrance when he spoke of spirituality?

Nothing better embodies this mutual choice we have made than the Rafale. Because, what is the Rafale? It’s the best French technology that my country is placing at India’s disposal.

It’s the power of industrial return, which will enable India to distinctly strengthen its technological base and develop its skills. France – more than any other country – understands this necessity. We are fully committed to the Make in India initiative, as well as in the greater integration of Indian manufacturers in our global supply chains.

This is not unfamiliar territory, nor a recent epiphany. Make in India has been a reality for the French industry for many years now, notably for defence equipment such as reactors, helicopters, missiles or submarines. Around 60 French aerospace companies are already established in India and not only have offices but also R&D centres as well as manufacturing plants. This number is constantly on the rise and tomorrow, other French companies will step forward to support Make in India. But we hope to develop all this much further.

Now, let’s look beyond this: by choosing the Rafale, you have not just chosen a combat jet with unparalleled performance. By choosing the Rafale, you have chosen to further intensify our military partnership. And the prospects in this area are infinite. I am referring to joint exercises, numerous cooperation in the Indian Ocean as well as in skies both close and distant.

The cement for all this is the remarkable trust that binds us. And believe me, I will do everything as far as we are concerned, so that we are worthy of it. We shall live up to it. The Armed Forces will live up to this. Dassault Aviation will live up to this.

We will pay particular attention to adhering to contractual deadlines. 36 Rafales are to be delivered between 2019 and 2022. The first aircraft handed over on time today is the first of a long series that we have every intention of delivering under the same conditions. We will ensure this, because France is determined to support the Indian Air Force so that it may take the best possible advantage of the Rafale as soon as possible.

As I was saying earlier, you have chosen a deep partnership, and we will hence not remain at only deliveries. Our action is part of a larger cooperation that includes the training of almost 200 personnel from the Indian Air Force in France as well as India.

All this will require efforts from each one of us. But think how much effort has already been invested to reach the point of this beautiful ceremony. And in all ceremonies, I think it is good to begin with gratitude.

I wish to warmly thank and congratulate all the teams that have worked so hard so that we would be able to gather here today. We are celebrating the first phase of a journey that will enable us to “reach the sky with glory” – the beloved motto of the Indian Air Force.

Today is definitely not just another day: it is a great day for our two countries. A great day in the history of our industrial cooperation as well as a highly symbolical day – that of breathing new life into and giving new impetus to our common history.

Long live Indo-French friendship!

Last modified on 11/10/2019

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