FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Congress red herring: Rafale aircraft purchase followed due procedure
Posted:Feb 10, 2018
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
"Why doesn't Modi tell everyone the cost of buying Rafale fighter aircraft. Did he personally change the terms of deal?.....There is a scam," charged Congress president Rahul Gandhi. 
 
Although there is no news on any elaborations of the scam that opposition leader claims, the government issued a scathing rejoinder on 7 February 2018: "Unfounded allegations are being made regarding the 2016 Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) to procure 36 Rafale aircraft in fly-away condition from France.  This would normally not have merited a response but for the serious damage being caused by the misleading statements, sought to be repeatedly perpetrated on a serious matter of national security."
 
It ought to be remembered that it was under the ten-year tenure of the previous UPA government that the earlier initiative of 2002 to meet the requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF) for much-needed augmentation of its fighter strength ran aground.  In 2012, then Defence Minister A K Antony exercised an unprecedented personal veto on the laid down institutional process then under way for procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).  All this happened when there was an alarming decline in IAF’s fighter strength.
 
Shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tour of France, when he announced the deal, then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had clarified that while both countries have principally agreed for 36 planes, the final decision regarding how many planes India will build indigenously, as per the ‘Make in India’ concept, will be decided later when both India and France discuss and finalise the finer points of the deal. Parrikar further clarified that Rafale was not going to replace MiG-21, which instead would be replaced by the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
 
 In another effort to twist facts, the government is asked why it did not conduct negotiations with a particular company representing a competing fighter aircraft.  It seems to have been conveniently forgotten that the then government itself had rejected that company’s unsolicited offer, made days after closure of the bid process, to declare Rafale (DA) as the L1 bidder and had commenced negotiations with it in February 2012.
 
The demand that the government disclose the details and value of the contract for the Rafale aircraft contracted in 2016 is unrealistic.  In keeping with confidentiality requirements, the UPA government had also expressed its inability to disclose the price of various defence procurements, including in its responses to Parliament questions. The approximate acquisition cost of the Rafale aircraft has already been provided to Parliament.  Provision of exact item-wise cost and other information will reveal, inter alia, details regarding the various customizations and weapons systems specially designed to augment the effectiveness and lethality of the assets, impact our military preparedness and compromise our national security.  Such details would also come under the ambit of the security agreement signed in 2008.  Thus, in not revealing the item-wise details of the contract, the government is merely following in letter and spirit the confidentiality provisions of a bilateral India-France Agreement of 2008 signed by the previous government.
 
As doubts are sought to be created about the 2016 contract for 36 aircraft, it needs little reiteration that the deal secured by the government is better in terms of capability, price, equipment, delivery, maintenance, training, etc., than that notionally negotiated by the then government in a process it could not conclude in ten years.  Moreover, the present government completed these negotiations in just about one year.
 
The procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft through an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with France to meet the urgent need of the IAF is strictly in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure in all aspects including mandating, conducting and monitoring of negotiations and seeking all necessary approvals, including that of the Cabinet Committee on Security, before entering into the IGA.  The aircraft had already been evaluated successfully by IAF during 2009-10.
 
In the earlier proposal to procure Rafale, which ended in a stalemate, there was no provision for transfer of technology but only to manufacture under licence.  The government was unable to agree on the terms for even that in its negotiations with the vendor, resulting in the long-drawn exercise under the earlier government ultimately turning futile.  Further, no Indian Offset Partner for the 2016 deal for 36 Rafale Aircraft has been so far selected by the vendor (DA) because as per the applicable guidelines, DA is free to select the Indian Offset Partners and provide their details at the time of seeking offset credits, or one year prior to discharge of offset obligation.”
 
IAF veterans involved with the process of evaluating/selecting the Rafale had lauded Modi’s move as very good because: (a) a government- to-government deal means that the price India pays for this aircraft will be the same as that for the French air force, (b) it is a good aircraft, in fact one of the best for IAF.  
 
A look at some characteristics of the Rafale and American F-35 is relevant. F-35 costs $ 350 million per aircraft as against $ 156 million for a Rafale. According to Defence Issues(https://defenseissues.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/rafale-vs-f-35-dogfight-performance/), F-35 has a far higher baseline drag than the Rafale, which means Rafale’s baseline performance is much better. In order to initiate a turn, F-35’s tail momentarily provides download before settling into a lift-producing position. Rafale’s canards momentarily provide upload before settling into a neutral position in which they create no lift by themselves, but improve wing lift and reduce drag. Rafale can achieve Mach 1,8 and cruise at Mach 1,2-1,4 with 6 missiles. F-35 can achieve Mach 1,6 and cruise at Mach 0,95 with 4 internal missiles. This makes it quite clear that the F-35 has inferior acceleration (and thus lift-to-drag and thrust-to-drag ratios) compared to Rafale, even when both aircraft are in air-to-air configuration.
 
News reports of 14 April 2015 cited Parrikar stating that the decision to buy 126 fighter jets from France cleared by the previous Congress-led government was not thought through properly. The purchase, he said, should not have been made through a global tender, but through a government to government transaction, which makes it cheaper. On his predecessor, he reportedly commented: "There was hardly any supervision or control. A Defence Minister needs to monitor but that was hardly the case." He  informed that new acquisitions worth Rs. 5,40,000 crore cleared by the previous government would be reviewed. Another report stated  that the Defence Minister indicated the $25-billion Indian tender for buying 126 advanced combat aircraft had virtually been scrapped, with the government stressing that any future deal for Rafale fighter jets would be through direct negotiations with the French government. Parrikar was also reported to have said: "Today we have only 40 LCAs, why can't we have 100 of these?" and added that proportion of Rafale and Tejas fighters will depend on negotiations with the French government on any further purchase from Dassault.
 
 
 
(The author is a retired armed forces officer and a strategic analyst. He can be contacted at wordsword02@gmail.com)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, is a former top diplomat who retired as India's Permanent Representative at the United Nations. In his new political avatar, as an important minister in the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Puri told INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS that
 
read-more
Aimed at consolidating cooperation between the armed forces of India and Saudi Arabia and explore new avenues of defence cooperation, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Naval Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, visited Saudi Arabia on from 4-8 February 2018, writes Anil Bhut
 
read-more
Campus placement season is here and the news is that graduates from the top campuses in India, especially the IITs, have received six figure pay packets and job offers in the US. However, looking beyond the top 200 engineering schools in India, pay packets are not looking too promising. The reason is the emergence of new engineering sc
 
read-more
Since the NDA government converted the ‘Look East’ Policy to the ‘Act East’ policy, there has been a greater sense of strategic engagement with the ASEAN, writes Gurjit Singh
 
read-more
The UN will be making contacts with Maldives leaders in response to the request by the opposition leaders for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to oversee the all-party talks proposed by that nation's President Abdulla Yameen, Guterres's Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Friday.
 
read-more
Bangladesh is disaster prone country because of its conical shape. The risk of climate change, drought, flood and natural disaster has increased uncertainty of agricultural production, which has also increased the level of food insecurity in the country, writes Minhazur Rahman Rezvi
 
read-more

The Indian government is undertaking a project to enhance and install infrastructures related to trade and customs along its northeastern frontier, that include trading points with Bhutan.

 
read-more

Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre held a lecture in the “2022: The India We Seek”

 
read-more
Column-image

Title: Do We Not Bleed?: Reflections of a 21-st Century Pakistani; Author: Mehr Tarar; Publisher: Aleph Book Company; Pages: 240; Price: Rs 599

 
Column-image

From antiquity, the Muslim faith has been plagued by the portrayal of Muslim men regularly misusing this perceived “right” to divorce their wives instantly by simply uttering “talaq” thrice.

 
Column-image

'Another South Asia!' edited by Dev Nath Pathak makes a critical engagement with the questions about South Asia: What is South Asia? How can one pin down the idea of regionalism in South Asia wherein inter-state relations are often char...

 
Column-image

Book: A Time of Madness; Author: Salman Rashid; Publisher: Aleph; Price: Rs 299; Pages: 127

 
Column-image

Book: Why I Am A Hindu; Author: Shashi Tharoor; Publisher: Aleph Book Company; Pages: 302; Price: Rs 699