Purchase of more Rafales was raised by France last month: Defence Minister

19 November, 2017, 03:17 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • Rafale deal: Govt says Congress charge shameful

She said that after the NDA assumed power in 2014, the inter-governmental route was opted for expeditious procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition with France after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's discussions with the Air Force. "Why don't you question the PM who changed the entire Rafale deal to help a businessman?"

The opposition party also alleged that the aircraft were being purchased at much higher rates than what was decided after the completion of the tender process under the previous UPA government.

Sitharaman on Friday said that the allegations relating to Rafale deal were shameful and that the deal was finalised following a transparent procedure.

The defence minister also attacked the Congress by blaming it for sitting for 10 years on plans to buy the fighter jets that the Indian Air Force needed. "But why don't you ask questions about the Rafale deal and Amit Shah's son Jay from the Prime Minister", Gandhi told reporters.

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"Repeated attempts at shoddy cover-up and complete non- transparency in purchase of Rafale aircraft have raised serious questions on national interests and national security by the Modi government".

The minister said she could not spell out in detail about what happened due to the indecision as the issue involved the nation's security. "But it is not limited to the acquisition of military assets, it is far broader than that, as exemplified in our cooperation in the Indian Ocean", she said.

When asked about reports that several members of the high-level committee examining the bids dissented and noted that Rafale was not the lowest bidder (L 1), Sitharaman said, "I will go back to see what it is". The minister was highly critical of the UPA government for not finalising the Rafale deal during its decade-long rule.

Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa had said in the annual press conference of IAF that full squadron strength will be reached by 2032. But the per unit cost zooms to nearly Rs 1,640 crore if the overall deal is taken into account, which includes a deadly weapons package, all spares and costs for 75% fleet availability and performance-based logistics support for five years, among other things, as reported by TOI earlier.

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