Exclusive | People misinformed on Rafale: IAF defends deal
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has come out all guns blazing defending the Rafale aircraft deal including the contentious offsets allocation to Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence.
The IAF has also questioned the claims being made by political leaders that Rs 30,000-crore offsets are being allocated to Reliance.
"People are perhaps misinformed. We were a part of the commercial negotiations for Rafale. There is nothing like Rs 30,000 crore to any one party. Dassault has to do offsets to a tune of Rs 6,500 crore. Not more than that," Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, Deputy Chief of Air Staff, who recently flew the Rafale being manufactured for the IAF in France, told India Today TV.
The IAF should know. The commercial negotiations were headed by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff. The negotiations continued for almost 14 months and the IAF insists it met all the directions given by the government.
"We got a better price, better maintenance terms, better delivery schedule, and a better performance logistics package," Air Marshal Nambiar added. He is not flying solo, defending the Rafale aircraft deal.
India Today TV also caught up with Air Marshal Shirish Deo, vice chief of the air staff who shot down allegations of a push from the government to favour Reliance.
"Which country will come under pressure to lose money? No company can afford to get into an offsets contract of this magnitude and then take pressure from the government. After all the commercial survival of the company is at stake," Air Marshal Deo insisted.
IAF says Dassault is responsible for the offsets. "Dassault knows how to service the offsets contract. Their survival is at stake," he added.
The IAF insists no commercial entity will get into a loss-making proposition on offsets.
In fact, even Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of the air staff, has gone on record to insist the final deal for the acquisition of the 36 Rafale fighter jets is better than the earlier 2012 deal that was in the pipeline.
"It (deal for 36 aircraft) is a government to government deal. There is better serviceability and 50 per cent offsets," Air Chief Dhanoa had said recently.
Sources in the IAF have also explained that the offsets are not coming to a single vendor in India.
"The offsets share of Dassault Aerospace is limited to Rs 6,500 crore. DRDO gets the lion's share of the offsets. Then there are offset partners like BEL & Thales Joint Venture at Bangalore. Samtel and Thales, Reliance JV and Thales at Nagpur. Similarly, IBM India, Tata Services, HCL, Wipro, L&T InfoTech are among other partners," sources added.
The IAF is keeping its fingers crossed that the political dogfight does not follow the Bofors trajectory. The Bofors scandal resulted in halting the modernisation of the Indian army's artillery by 30 years.