Defence Minister Rajnath Singh left here on Monday for France primarily to receive the first Rafale fighter jet on the occasion of IAF Day.

“Leaving New Delhi for Paris on a three-day visit to France. Shall attend the annual defence dialogue and the induction ceremony of Rafale. India-France bilateral relations have made tremendous progress in the recent years. Looking forward to further and deepen these ties,” he tweeted before his departure.

Singh will participate in the Rafale fighter aircraft handing over ceremony at Merignac, about 600 km from Paris, along with French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly. He will also perform the ‘Shastra Puja’ (worship of weapons) on the auspicious occasion of ‘Vijayadashami’ and fly a sortie in the Rafale aircraft, the Defence Ministry said.

The minister is also scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday. He will hold the annual defence dialogue with his French counterpart.

On Wednesday, Singh will address CEOs of the French defence industry during which he is likely to urge them to participate in “Make in India” and the ‘DefExpo’ to be held in Lucknow from 5-8 February.

Even though the Defence Minister will be receiving the first Rafale jet in France, the aircraft, which is expected to bolster the capability of the IAF, will come to India only in May next year.

“The first four of the 36 Rafale jets will come to India by May next year and the aircraft will significantly enhance the IAF’s combat prowess,’’ Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria, said here last week.

India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of Rs 58000 crore. The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons and missiles.