New Delhi, Dec 18: The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with France for 36 Rafales was arrived at to meet the critical requirement of the Air Force (IAF) and was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), Parliament was informed on Monday.
“In the present procurement, 36 Rafale aircraft are being procured in direct fly-away condition under IGA between the government of India and French Republic. In the IGA, better terms have been achieved in terms of better pricing, better maintenance terms and better delivery schedule,” Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
In September 2016, India and France signed the €7.87-billion agreement for the aircraft, spares, weapons, 10 years of annual maintenance and associated equipment. The deal has a 50% offset clause to be executed by Dassault and its partners.
In 2000, a proposal was mooted to procure 126 Mirage-2000 jets to replace the Mig-21s in service which was later converted to the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for which the Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued in 2007. Of the 126, 18 were direct fly-away aircraft and 108 were to be licence manufactured in India.
On completion of field evaluation trials, only two of the six vendors were found to be fully compliant and the Dassault Aviation was declared the L1, Sitharaman said. “The contract negotiations had reached an impasse and the RFP was formally withdrawn on June 24, 2015. To meet the critical operational requirements of the IAF, 36 Rafale were procured through the IGA route,” she stated.
Dassault has tied with up Reliance Defence to execute its share of the offset clause to which Ms. Sitharaman said the vendor was free to choose their partner.
Recently, the Congress party had alleged a “huge scam” in the deal and accused the Modi government of “promoting the interests of Prime Minister’s crony capitalist friends”.