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In pictures: France delivers first Rafale fighter jet to India

Updated : 2019-10-09 12:06:16

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh took a flight in a Rafale fighter jet as France delivered the country its first aircraft from a series of 36 purchased in a multibillion-dollar deal in 2016.

Following an official ceremony at aircraft maker Dassault Aviation's facility in Merignac, southwestern France, Rajnath Singh donned a pilot suit and helmet and got in the Rafale cockpit for a test flight with a French pilot.

The $8.78 billion deal sparked controversy in India last year with the main opposition accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of buying the aircraft at nearly three times the price being negotiated when it was the ruling party before Modi came to power in 2014.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, third right, visits the Rafale jet fighter assembly line in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France. Rajnath Singh formally accepted the first Rafale fighter jet after India had signed a deal with the French government and Dassault Aviation in September 2016, to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, third right, visits the Rafale jet fighter assembly line in Merignac, near Bordeaux, southwestern France. Rajnath Singh formally accepted the first Rafale fighter jet after India had signed a deal with the French government and Dassault Aviation in September 2016, to acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Drapier delivers his speech during a ceremony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac, near Bordeaux. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Drapier delivers his speech during a ceremony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac, near Bordeaux. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Minister Rajnath Singh delivers a speech during the handover ceremony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac.  (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Minister Rajnath Singh delivers a speech during the handover ceremony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac.  (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Minister Rajnath Singh shakes hands with French Defense Minister Florence Parly at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Minister Rajnath Singh shakes hands with French Defense Minister Florence Parly at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh writes onto a Rafale jet fighter as a ritual gesture during the handover ceremony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh writes onto a Rafale jet fighter as a ritual gesture during the handover ceremony at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has a ritual gesture onto a Rafale jet fighter during the handover ceremony. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has a ritual gesture onto a Rafale jet fighter during the handover ceremony. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Minister Rajnath Singh puts some flowers as a ritual gesture on a Rafale jet fighter during the handover ceremony. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Minister Rajnath Singh puts some flowers as a ritual gesture on a Rafale jet fighter during the handover ceremony. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh thumbs up as he sits in a Rafale jet fighter. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh thumbs up as he sits in a Rafale jet fighter. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh shakes hands with chief pilot Philippe Duchateau, right, as he sits in a Rafale jet fighter during the handover ceremony. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh shakes hands with chief pilot Philippe Duchateau, right, as he sits in a Rafale jet fighter during the handover ceremony. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh gestures before a test flight in a Rafale jet. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh gestures before a test flight in a Rafale jet. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh sits in the cockpit during a test flight in a Rafale jet fighter. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh sits in the cockpit during a test flight in a Rafale jet fighter. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
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