A day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh formally took delivery of the first of the 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets, Dassault Aviation, the French company that manufactures the jets, has released the first airborne photographs of the second aircraft with the tail number RB-002.

The first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to their home base in India by May 2020. All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022.

On Tuesday, Singh had attended the handover ceremony along with his French counterpart Florence Parly at aircraft maker Dassault Aviation facility in Merignac, southwestern France.

All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022
All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022

The RB001 Rafale, denoting the initials of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria who played a key role in striking the 59,000-crore deal for the jets in his previous role as IAF deputy chief, was unveiled with the Indian tricolour as its backdrop.

Parly described the Rafale as a symbol of the best France has to offer India to protect its sovereignty and also of the French commitment to the 'Make in India' initiative.

This range of Rafale fighter jets have been specially designed to meet the needs of the IAF, which its manufacturer described as a new step in the company's long-standing relationship with India.

This range of Rafale fighter jets have been specially designed to meet the needs of the IAF
This range of Rafale fighter jets have been specially designed to meet the needs of the IAF

In Bordeaux, Singh began with a tour of Dassault Aviation's final Rafale assembly line. He was accompanied by Armed Forces personnel including Air Marshall Harjit Singh Arora. Representatives of the top military brass from the French side were also present on the occasion.

(PTI contributed to this story)

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