Disclosing Rafale Deal Details Breach ‘Secrecy Pact’ Signed Between India And France: Defence Minister
February 6th, 2018
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday told the Rajya Sabha that details like per unit cost of Rafale’s aircraft could not be revealed due to secrecy pact that concerns to the deal signed between India and France.
In writing, Congress MP MV Rajeev Gowda in Rajya Sabha asked Sitharaman, “Whether Dassault (the French aircraft manufacturer) was penalised for refusing to fulfil its contractual obligations under the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft Request (MMRCA) deal; if so, the details thereof and if not, the reasons therefore.”
In a reply, Sitharaman said, “There was no contract with Dassault for medium multi-role combat aircraft.”
In another question, Gowda asked the minister about “the cost per aircraft under the Inter-Governmental Agreement for 36 Rafale aircraft”.
While responding to another question raised by the MP, Sitharaman said, “As per ‘Article-10’ of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Government of India and Government of France on the purchase of Rafale aircraft, the provisions of the Security Agreement govern the protection of the classified information and material exchanged under IGA signed between the two nations in 2008.”
Rafale deal controversy
In contrast to BJP’s claim that Rafale deal was cost-effective, Congress raised allegations of irregularities. It said that the ruling party has been making false claims as the deal between India and France was overpriced, and it was procured by favouring Reliance Defence owned by Anil Ambani. However, both BJP and Ambani denied the allegations.
As reported by The Print, before signing Rafale deal in 2016, the NDA Government entered into another contract that assured deliveries of the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft, which was €59 million per unit cheaper than the 36 French fighter jets that were promised under Rafale deal. This offer was made under the top dignitaries of the Indian Government that assured delivery of Eurofighter Typhoon jets from Britain, Italy and Germany to fulfil urgent Indian requirements.
However, the Eurofighter Typhoon had been signed at the cost of €138 million per plane or a total amount of €17.5 billion for 126 fighters. In comparison, the cost of 36 jets made under Rafale deal is €7.1, which to €197 million per aircraft. According to The Print even if we deduct the performance-based logistic cost of Rafale jets which is €353 million, the money that would be spent to maintain and fly the fighters for at least five years will cost India around €187 million per jet fighter.
The UPA-I government floated a tender on 20 August 2007, for the purchase of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for the Air Force.
Dassault Rafale was declared L1 vendor as the bidder with lowest price quotation (with a base price of $10.20 billion, amounting to Rs. 54000 crores at that time) in 2012. 18 out of the 126 aircrafts were supposed to come in flyaway condition and the rest were to be manufactured in India by HAL with the transfer of technology. After formation of new government in May 2014, the earlier Request for Proposal (RFP) for the purchase of 126 aircraft was cancelled on July 30, 2015. Modi Government signed a new deal on September 26 the next year for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets for $8.7 billion. On October 3, 2016, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence Limited collaborated with Dassault Aviation in a joint venture for defence production in India. The deal thus went from the hands of public sector to a private company.
The price difference is stated to be huge, as per the claim of Congress. They say that the UPA negotiation settled for each aircraft price to be Rs. 526.10 crore.