The much-hyped multi billion Euro Rafale Deal which is considered as a gamechanger for India arrived in India as the first batch of five rafales out of 36 ordered landed at the Ambala Air Base on July 29.
Rafale is a twin-engine medium multi-role combat aircraft which is manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation. The claim made by the Dassault Aviation with respect to Rafale is that it has 'Omnirole' capability i.e. it can perform various actions at the same time.
The major issue with Rafale deal controversy in India is related to the procurement of 36 multirole fighter aircraft for a price approximated at 8 billion euros by the Defence Ministry of India from France's Dassault Aviation to which the Supreme Court gave a clean chit.
The Indian Government had released its first tender in the year 2007 for acquiring Rafale aircrafts and after 12 years of the long procurement process, India finally received its first Rafale Fighter Jet in France by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The Supreme Court in 2019 rejected all the petitions relevant to Rafale deal with reference to its 2018 order. In 2018, the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to the NDA government (Narendra Modi’s Government) on allegations of irregularities in the obtainment of 36 Rafale fighter jets by India from France, therefore rejecting a probe into the controversial Rafale deal issue and also imposed a closure to the contempt case filed against the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.i.e. the purchase of 36 Rafale Fighter Jets by Modi government is welcomed by the Supreme Court.
Line of Events: Acquiring Rafale Fighter Jets
- In 2007, The UPA government released tenders for 126 Fighter Jets, based on the demand by the Indian Air Force(IAF), and later in the year 2011, IAF ultimately declared that Rafale deal and Eurofighter Typhoon had met its standards.
- In the year 2012 contract negotiations began with the manufacturer of Rafale, i.e. contract negotiation was made between France’s Dassault Aviation and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (India). Contract negotiations stood incomplete even after 2 years from the year of contract negotiations with Dassault i.e. since 2012 to 2014.
- In 2014 due to a dearth of the agreement on various terms that is crucial in the procurement process of a commodity (commodity herein referred as; Rafale jet) and cost related issues, the deal was not finalized.
- In 2015, The Defence Ministry of India finally withdrew the 126 aircraft deal tender that was passed by the UPA Government in 2007 as mentioned above.
- Now, India entered into a fresh direct deal with France in September 2016 to purchase 36 new Rafale fighter jets in a 7.87 billion euros deal. After the Indian government’s plan to rebuild its Indian Air Force (IAF) Fleet by bringing the Fighter Jets capable of performing several actions at the same time, even many other international aviation manufacturers showed their interest in this regard.
The deal was initially estimated to be around Rs 54,000 crore. The NDA government, however, insisted that it got significantly better terms as compared to those terms quoted in the original bid under UPA in 2007, with a total reported saving of more than 1600 million Euros. The term “Technology Transfer” was not included in the previous deal, what was on the offer was just Licence Manufacturing technology.
The Indian Government is vested with the responsibility for ensuring the defence of India and the President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Armed forces. The Indian Armed Forces include the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy. Therefore recently, the Defence Ministry gave its approval to the purchase of 36 fighter aircrafts for the Indian Air force as a consequence of the India- China faceoff at Galwan valley. The approvals made are in support of the PM Narendra Modi’s “Atma Nirbhar Bharat”.Under the current agreement with NDA Government, the 36 Rafale deal controversy procurement offset proposal complies with the 'Make in India' initiative of the Indian Government.