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Rafale is here : Reminiscing the Rafale dance fail, a back story

  • Vishwaksen | Team PresentMirror | Updated: July 29, 2020, 10:12 p.m.

Golden Arrows Warriors of 17 squadron have landed in Ambala with 5 Rafale jets, making India among the few countries to have the world's best battle ready aircraft. While the emotions in the country among the citizens and veterans is at heights, the Rafale Deal has been marred with politics and propaganda. Attempts were being made to stay the deal at all costs, while the IAF waited and waited for Rafales that now have become a national emotion.


A deal that was brainchild of former PM, Dr. ManMohan Singh, went through a tipsy topsy political battle till the first group of Rafales were finally delivered at Ambala today. A comic Rafale Dance was witnessed for the last five years and it was among the burning issues of 2019 elections, an issue very playfully raised by then Congress president, Rahul Gandhi at all forums. When a three-judge bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi rejected all petitions and said the court was satisfied with the procurement process, finding no reason to interfere in the pricing details or the offset partner chosen as part of the deal, the propaganda finally come to a halt. The Rafale Dance had its highs and lows. We bring to you with logical counters all on one platter.

Allegation that Reliance Defense was an inexperienced company in the field of Defense

NDTV's unbiased journalist, Ravish Kumar made an assertive allegation that Reliance Defense is a company just born on 2016.The truth however is Reliance Defense is not a new company. It is founded in 1997 and has one of the largest infrastructures in Asia in defense and ship manufacturing, which previously went by the name of Pipavav Defense and Offshore Engineering Limited. Pipavav Shipyard is the first corporate shipyard to be granted clearance to build warships and other vessels for the Indian Navy. It is only renamed recently and acquired by Reliance and by buying 18 percent of its shares Anil Ambani has become chairman of the company.

The same company had signed the Master Ship Repair Agreement (MSRA) with the US Navy to maintain the vessels of its Seventh Fleet. Seventh Fleet maintenance included 170 vessels and 700 aircrafts. The same company built six ships in a time bound manner for the Indian Navy. Congress government in 2010 awarded 26 billion contract to the same company to build 5 offshore patrol vessels for the Indian Navy. So, an Ambani as CEO might not have an experience in the defence but the company called Reliance Naval Co. Engineering Limited has enough to boast about.

Reliance Defense was only an offset partner, but the propaganda played its part.

Reliance Defense is an offset partner like other companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL and according to Dassault the talks are going on for 100 other companies. They aren't making aircrafts for India at all. Rafale will be made solely by Dassault. In return, Reliance will be working for the French as offsets of the deal. If anyone should worry it should be the French. What is called 'offset' in English, is usually translated in French as 'compensation' or 'contrepartie', words that were used by the CEO Eric Trappier.

“It was an injustice to HAL”.

Not really. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) failed in their previous assignments of upgrading Mirage 2000H with the same company Dassault and the latter wasn't much happy about what transpired between the two. After the maintenance warranty with Dassault expired, HAL refused to provide maintenance and demanded more monetary compensation from the Air force. IAF was revolving like a pendulum between HAL and Dassault. It is basic functioning of HAL that needs upgrade more than the aircrafts in question.

Also HAL didn't have time bound technology to do what Reliance Defense can do for the Dassault. We are not even mentioning what the HAL did with Tejas for 33 years. Indeed, things have been improving, with HAL along with ADA promising heights with indigenous Medium Weight Fighter technology of Tejas Mk2, an upgrade of Mk1, grabbing a deal of 324 aircrafts in total. HAL has duly got its share, given that it delivers.

Congress President made a claim that they had a much cheaper deal.

Rafale deal was proposed by UPA like a one sided lover but was never in reality accepted by its French compatriot Dassault. From 2008 to 2014, UPA looked forever confused and couldn't finalise anything regarding Rafales despite the rising needs of IAF. A report from Financial express quotes, "The original deal to procure 126 fighter jet could not go through during the UPA rule despite reaching the final stage as the then Defence Minister A K Antony, felt there was something wrong in the process and asked for a review." The CAG report in 2019 stated that "The Rafale deal negotiated by the NDA government to procure 36 fighter jets was 2.86 per cent cheaper than the UPA’s 2007 offer".

So, how was Rahul Gandhi claiming that they got the Rafale deal at 500 crores per aircraft for 126 aircrafts? Also being the Chinese threat significant and the remark by the Air Chief Marshal about the need for IAF to be ready at two fronts Doklam and Ladakh, 36 aircrafts in flying conditions with loaded weapon machinery was a wise deal and the need of the hour.

Empty claims by Hollande

Francois Hollande, the former French president, who is now being hounded by corruption charges inside his own country, made claims of favouritism by the Central government while talking to Rahul Gandhi. The France government categorically denied and refuted these claims irrevocably. Was Indian defense becoming victim of internal wars within the French?

Explanation by the Dassault Aviation

In compliance with these empty allegations, Chief Operating Officer LoïkSegalen informed, May 11, 2017, the Central Works Council of the Company’s offset commitments and the strategy to deliver them. Dassault Aviation has sold 36 Rafale aircraft to India. In compliance with the Indian regulations (Defence Procurement Procedure), all deals were executed within the framework of the September 2016 Inter-Government Agreement between France and India. Dassault Aviation in a press release said, “Dassault Aviation has committed to offsets in India worth 50% of the value of the purchase and in order to deliver some of these offsets, Dassault Aviation has decided to create a joint-venture. Dassault Aviation has freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This joint-venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), was created on February 10, 2017”.

The claim that there is no technology transfer.

The claim being, there will be no technology transfer, is also refuted and rubbished by Dassault. The cornerstone for the DRAL plant in Nagpur (Maharashtra) was laid October 27, 2017. This plant will manufacture parts for Falcon 2000 business jets and, in a second step, parts for Rafale aircraft. An initial team of Indian managers have been trained for six months, with Smapathlumaran ST being the Indian CEO of DRAL, part of the manufacturing processes in the plant at Biarritz (France). The first Indian skilled workers have also benefited from an intensive training in our manufacturing techniques in France.

No water in the UPA deal

Another claim that UPA had a better deal if it was executed can be logically refuted as well. According to document released by the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Air Force, after taking into account the cost of weapons, maintenance, simulators, repair support and technical assistance, the per unit cost of the aircraft is Rs 1,646 crores, while the ones negotiated for by the UPA would have come to Rs 1,705 crores.

The Modi government paid Rs 59,000 crore for 36 planes while the UPA would have paid Rs 1.69 lakh crore. The Modi government thus saved Rs 59 crore per aircraft going on with the deal. The aircrafts bought by NDA also has missiles such as the METEOR and the SCALP, these were not included in the aircrafts bought by the UPA.

Observations by the Supreme Court

The supreme court specifically mentioned that they looked into the pricing and they are satisfied. There should be no occasion to doubt the process. If the Indian Airforce have requirement of 126 jets, it should be the Air Force Chief who should be filing this petition. “Joint exercise has taken place between two governments and hence there is no element of financial benefits”, quoted CJI Gogoi. The Apex Court also emphasized on the growing necessity to induct 4th and 5th gen Aircrafts in the Indian Air Force. The court also observed there was no substance available with the petitioner to claim favouritism in this deal.

We leave it for the Indian populace to decide, if this Rafale Dance of Indian Polity should be taken seriously or should be laughed off as a source of Entertainment. Sparing the politics, it is a moment of cheer for India as the Jets that cut through Turkey's Al Watiya airbase like a knife does to cake, are now ready to serve the skies at behest of the Indian Airforce.

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