Bengaluru: “There is no scandal in the Rafale deal. We are going to deliver 36 aircraft. If the Government of India wants more aircraft, we will be pleased to deliver. There is also an RFI for 110 aircraft and we are in the race because we feel Rafale is the best aircraft and we have our footprint here in India. So we feel confident here in India,” said Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier yesterday.
In the first mega procurement initiative for fighter jets, the IAF had issued the initial tender for the deal on 6 April 2018. Dassault Aviation makers of the fighter jet said it was also in the race for 110 aircraft for the Indian Air Force, for which the government had floated an RFI last year.
When asked about the most-talked about partnership with Reliance despite the latter lacking experience in making defence equipment, Trappier said, “But I have the experience. I am transferring this know-how and experience to the Indian team. The Indian team has been appointed by a new company Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DARL). They are good for India and the company. So where is the problem?”
He also clarified about Reliance’s financial problems by saying that they had their own matters, but both the sides were working together well.
Asked the reasons for Dassault going ahead with partnering Reliance despite that company’s financial problems, Trappier said, Reliance was chosen as he wanted to be in charge of the industrial process in the company that manufactures parts of the French aircraft in India.
Talking about the controversies that erupted in India because of the deal, Trappier pointed at the CAG report and Supreme Courts’ verdict and said he was pleased with the two observations. The CAG revealed the pricing was 2.8 per cent cheaper during NDA rule compared to UPA’s. And the Supreme Court had said that the deal was totally transparent.
He further assured that the Rafale fighter jets had high performance capacity and would be one of the backbones of the defence of India. But was saddening to see that politics over the matter took a front seat instead of the importance of having the fighter aircraft for India’s defence needs.