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Rafale aircraft deal India
As the controversy soars over the Rafale deal, with Opposition accusing the government of lying about the “scam” and former aides and Union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha claiming “it’s bigger than Bofors” and a case of “monumental criminal misconduct”, we are deconstructing the Rafale deal for you.
Rafale aircraft deal India: Background :
On 31 January 2012, Indian Ministry of Defence announced that Dassault Rafale had won the MMRCA competition to supply Indian Air Force with 126 aircraft along with an option for 63 additional aircraft. The first 18 aircraft were to be supplied by Dassault Aviation and the remaining 108 were to be manufactured under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with the transfer of technology from Dassault. In 2014, negotiations hit a wall over escalating costs —from $12 billion to almost $30 billion — and Dassault’s refusal to stand guarantee for HAL’s ability to deliver the aircraft on time. There were also differences over the scope of technology transfer.
Rafale aircraft deal India: Actions By NDA Government
During an official visit to France in April 2015, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announced that India would acquire 36 fully built Rafales citing “critical operational necessity”.In July 2015, then defense minister Manohar Parrikar informed the Rajya Sabha that the tender for 126 aircraft had been withdrawn and negotiations for 36 aircraft have begun. In January 2016, India and France signed a memorandum of understanding for the acquisition of 36 aircraft.
In September 2016, India and France signed an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) for the acquisition of 36 aircraft at a cost of €7.87 billion. It was reported that India would acquire 28 single-seat aircraft at a cost of €91.1 million each and 8 dual-seat aircraft at a cost of €94 million each. The deal also included customized enhancements specific to Indian Air Force at a cost of €1.8 billion, the establishment of two aircraft maintenance and overhaul facilities at a cost of €1.8 billion, a weapons package costing €710 million and a performance-based logistics agreement at a cost of €353 million.
Rafale aircraft deal India: The Final deal
India and France signed a Euro 7.87-billion (Rs 59,000 crore approximately) deal on September 23, 2016, for 36 Rafale jets. The delivery of the aircraft will start from September 2019. The deal was finalized on the basis of the procurement procedure followed under the UPA government.
Rafale aircraft deal India: Allegations by Opposition :
The Congress has been accusing corruption in the deal, alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalized by the UPA government. The party has also demanded answers from the government on why public sector aerospace major HAL was not involved in the deal.
The Congress has also sought to know price details of the aircraft . They also questioned the rate per aircraft has gone up from Rs 526 crore to Rs 1,670 crore. The government has refused to share the details, citing a secrecy clause of a 2008 pact between India and France. However, Congress’ A K Antony, who was defense minister in 2008 when India and France inked an inter-governmental agreement on defense procurement, said the government’s claim that the secrecy clause was forcing it to not reveal price details of the deal was “totally wrong”.
The party claimed that Qatar had purchased 12 Rafale fighter jets in November 2017 for USD 108.33 million per aircraft (Rs 694.80 crore) and The government was benefitting the Reliance Defence Ltd (RDL), which was formed only12 days prior to the deal, as the company has set up a joint venture with Dassault Aviation to execute the offset obligation for the Rs 59,000 crore deal.
Rafale aircraft deal India: French Government’s response
Former French President Francois Hollande has been quoted by an article on a French Mediapart, an online investigative and opinion journal as stating that the Indian government had asked the French government to nominate Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Ltd. as its India partner in the Rafale deal. Contradicting Hollande’s claim, the French government issued a statement mentioning that French companies have the full freedom to select Indian firms for the Rafale contract. Dassault also clarified that Anil Ambani was Dassault Aviation’s choice.
Rafale aircraft deal: Rebuttals by government
There was no deal signed by the UPA, so the comparison against an estimated cost was meaningless.
Two, the 36 aircraft were not only upgrades of the version that was initially offered, but they would also have 13 India-Specific Enhancement capabilities which no other Rafale sold to any other nation would have.
Also, the secrecy clause, which was backed by the French in a quick statement, was to ensure that competitors could not extrapolate the cost of the add-ons.
The vendor had the right to choose its partner, and Reliance was not the only company to benefit from the clause. Also, the govt had negotiated a 50% offset clause, far more than the mandated 30 percent. Dassault had already set up a factory at Mihan, Nagpur, which would initially produce components, but eventually the entire aircraft, if more were ordered, not just by India, but other buyers. This also fits into the Make in India programme.
Now that you know the entire story we leave it upto your wisdom as to whom you consider right and wrong.