The chaos about the Rafale Deal stings political outburst in India
Chennai, 25 September 2018: India in September 2016 inked a direct deal with the French government to purchase 36 new Rafale fighter jets in a 7.87 billion euro deal. India will also get latest weapons like the Meteor and Scalp missiles as part of the contract, besides a five-year support package that assures high availability of the fighter
Rafale is a twin-engine medium multi-role combat aircraft, manufactured by French company Dassault Aviation. Dassault claims Rafale has ‘Omnirole’ capability to perform several actions at the same time, such as firing air-to-air missiles at a very low altitude, air-to-ground, and interceptions during the same sortie.
The aircraft is fitted with an on-board oxygen generation system (OBOGS) which suppresses the need for liquid oxygen re-filling or ground support for oxygen production. India will pay a 15% advance and deliveries are to start in three years.
It carry out a wide range of missions: Air-defence/air-superiority, Reconnaissance, close air support dynamic targeting, Air-to-ground precision strike/interdiction, anti-ship attacks, nuclear deterrence, buddy-buddy refueling.
Many international aviation manufactures expressed interest when they got know about the Indian government’s plan to revamp its IAF fleet by introducing Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts.
According to The Hindu, IAF conducted technical and flight evaluations and in 2011, declared that Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon had met its criteria. Rafale was declared L-1 bidder in 2012 and contract negotiations began with its manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, that year. Contract negotiations remained incomplete even after 2 years, in 2014 due to a lack of agreement on various terms of RFP compliance and cost related issues. There was no deal under the UPA Government.
Transfer of Technology remained the primary issue of concern between the two sides. Dassault Aviation was also not willing to take the responsibility of quality control of production of 108 aircraft in India. While Dassault provisioned for 3 crore man hours for production of the aircraft in India, HAL’s estimate was nearly 3 times higher, escalating costs manifold.
The deal was initially estimated to be worth Rs 54,000 crore. NDA government has insisted that it got significantly better terms than those quoted in the original bid under UPA, with a total reported saving of more than 1600 million Euros (350 million Euros on the cost of aircraft with a further reported saving on weapons, allied maintenance and training package amounting to a around 1300 million Euros or Rs 12,600 crores). However, a cost breakdown of Rafale in the original bid under UPA and in the 36 aircraft in the government-to-government deal under NDA are not in the public domain.
According to Economic Times, There was no agreement on the terms of Technology Transfer previously. What was on offer was just Licence Manufacturing technology. Under the current agreement, the 36 Rafale procurement offset proposal supports the ‘Make In India’ initiative of the Indian Government through Article 12 of the IGA. It states that the French Party will facilitate the implementation of ‘Make In India’ by the industrial supplier notably through offsets for 50% value of the supply protocol. In November 2017, Congress alleged a ‘huge scam’ in Rafale fighter jets deal. Saying that the contract violated the procurement procedure, the Congress party blamed the government for promoting of ‘crony capitalist friends’ at the cost of a defence public sector unit, Hindustan Aeronautics LimitedNSE -1.06 %.
The PM personally negotiated & changed the #Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to a bankrupt Anil Ambani.
The PM has betrayed India. He has dishonoured the blood of our soldiers.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 21, 2018
Congress alleged that the deal signed with France does not cater for technology transfer and has caused an ‘insurmountable’ loss to the exchequer. The Rafale deal has a 50 percent offset clause, a large part of which is to be executed by a joint venture company of the Anil Ambani owned Reliance Defence.
India has managed to negotiate the acquisition of the latest weapons package for the Rafale. These are the new weapons, beyond the standard package.
SCALP: A precision long range ground attack missile that can take out targets with extreme accuracy. Has a range of 300 km, capped by the missile technology control regime.
METEOR: A beyond visual range air to air missile that is possibly the best in its class. Can take out enemy aircraft at range of over 100 km.
As the political slug-fest between the Opposition and the ruling BJP over the Rafale deal continued, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday released a video of a French media portal and appeared to suggest it was the “sad truth” about Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The sad truth about India’s Commander in Thief,” Gandhi said on Twitter, targeting Modi.
The video quoted the editor of Mediapart, a French media house that published a story on Friday quoting former French President Francois Hollande as saying it was the Indian government that “proposed” Reliance Defence as the partner of Dassault Aviation for Rafale offset contracts. “The key sentence in his reply is ‘We did not have a choice’.
The editor said quoting Hollande, “We did not have a word to say about that subject. The Indian government suggested this service provider and Dassault negotiated with Ambani. We did not have a choice. We picked the interlocutor which was selected for us by the Indian government. That’s the contract.”
The key words are “ new formula” as said by Mr #Hollande to describe how Reliance Defense became suddenly part of the mix by Modi Sarkar. I think the #ChowkidarChorHai can explain that to us all. Game over for Mr #Modi. #Mera_PM_Chor_Hai https://t.co/PtChkgADAd
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) September 23, 2018
In response to the now snowballing allegations of corruption against the Modi government, Indian Twitter users are mincing no words by trending #Mera_PM_Chor_Hai.
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) September 23, 2018
One can always count on Indian Twitter for using Bollywood references to deliver biting political commentary. This time, inspired by the iconic film Deewar, users are tweeting pictures of “Mera PM Chor Hai” written on their wrists.
Former French President had said on Friday that it was the Modi government which picked Anil Ambani to be the offset partner in the Rafale deal. This earth-shaking revelation was met by utter silence from Prime Minister Modi and his ministers who have spent the past weeks claiming the exact opposite.
Since PM Modi personally negotiated the Rafale deal behind closed doors, he is under direct fire of the public’s anger and resentment.
By- Chetan Priyadarshan