The deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets between India and France has been called a “win-win partnership” by the latter.
But it has come under attack from the Opposition, mainly the Congress, which has levelled allegations of irregularities. But the government has rejected all these charges.
Here are 10 facts about the Rafale deal:
1. The Indian Air Force (IAF) requires a minimum of 42 fighter squadrons to achieve optimal capability but between 2000-2012 its actual strength declined to 34 squadrons due to obsolescence.
2. The original proposal to buy 126 fighter aircraft was first mooted during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s NDA government. The RFP for procurement of 126 MMRCA was finally issued in 2007.
3. IAF then conducted technical evaluations and flight evaluations and in 2011, declared that Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon had met its criteria.
4. Rafale was declared L-1 bidder in 2012 and contract negotiations began with its manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, that year
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. When Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, he inherited the vacuum in IAF’s fighter capabilities. During his visit to France in 2015, India and France announced a government-to-government deal wherein the Government of India would acquire 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible. According to the joint statement issued then, the two countries agreed to “conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft on terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway; the delivery would be in time-frame that would be compatible with the operational requirement of IAF; and that the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by Indian Air Force, and with a longer maintenance responsibility by France”.
8. The proposals were presented to the Defence Acquisition Council on 3 occasions and its directions were incorporated. The proposal then got a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) nod after which the IGA happened between India & France in 2016.
9. On costs, 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.
10. 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.
The Offset proposal also includes provisions for transfer of sophisticated design technology which is meaningfully superior to the licence manufacturing on offer in the earlier 126 MMRCA nonstarter. These critical design technologies are presently under discussion between the two governments. The present IGA was signed purely between two sovereign governments and no private individual, firm or entity was involved in the process from the Indian side. The procurement process also does not involve any Indian private party.