After a long thought to contradict the previous infantile deal from the UPA Govt – Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar stated as “economically unviable” the previous UPA government’s US$20Bn deal for the purchase of 126 Rafale fighter planes more than three years after France’s Dassault Aviation was declared the lowest bidder.
India has decided to buy only 36 Rafale fighter jets, scrapping the earlier plan to acquire 126 of the French aircraft on grounds of huge cost.
“We are not buying the rest. We are only buying the direct 36,” Parrikar told PTI in an interview when asked what will happen to rest of the requirement.
He said the UPA deal for 126 Rafales was way too expensive and it would have hampered other modernisation plans of the Indian military.
The deal would have required around Rs 1.3 lakh crore over a period of 10-11 years, he added.
“I also feel like having a BMW and Mercedes. But I don’t because I can’t afford it. First I can’t afford it and second I don’t need it. So, 126 Rafales was economically unviable. It was not required,” Parrikar said.
During his visit to France last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to buy 36 of the Rafale jets in a fly-away condition under a government-to-government (G2G) contract.
Parrikar underlined that the decision to acquire the 36 French jets came in view of the “urgent requirement” of Indian Air Force (IAF).
He expressed confidence that the Committee, that has been set up to work out the contract, would complete the task in the next 2-3 months.
The minister underlined that Rafales are not a replacement for MiG-21s. He said that the MiGs would be replaced by the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).
Explaining the strike capability of the Rafales and the kind of weapons it is fitted with, Parrikar said the French fighter jet was a “deep-striking fourth generation plus” aircraft.
Asked if the Rafale deal meant that the Modi government will only go through G2G deals for strategic assets in defence, Parrikar said the Defence Procurement Procedure does not prevent the government from using the G2G route.