The Rafale deal controversy has been ongoing since it came into being in September 2016. India signed a direct deal with France for 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets for a 7.87 billion euro. While all was going well, Congress blamed the NDA government of violating the procurement procedure and promoting ‘crony capitalist friends’.
Amidst the allegations of the scam and the tension between the government and the opposition, one important question was not highlighted to the citizens – why are the Dassault fighter jets so important for India to acquire?
The Rafale Deal
Apart from acquiring the 36 Rafale jets, the defence ministry officials also stated that the deal would bring a significant amount of work – more than 3 billion euros – to the Indian Industry for the next 7 to 8 years. They further added that the deal had the potential to, directly and indirectly, develop the employment opportunities in the India market.
The deal includes some of the latest military weapons like the Scalp and Meteor missiles and also a support package for 5 years that ensures the availability of more Rafale fighter jets.
Rafale Fighter Jets
When the Indian government announced that it would introduce Multi-Role Combat Aircraft in Indian Air Force for the purpose of revamping the existing fleet, many global aviation manufacturers expressed their interest in the same.
The IAF, likewise, carried out flight and technical assessments and in 2011 announced that Eurofighter Typhoon and Rafale met all the criteria. Subsequently, in 2012, Rafale was given the L-1 bidder tag and the Indian government started negotiating with Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafale fighter jets.
However, even after a couple of years, the contract negotiations between Dassault and the Indian government remained incomplete as neither parties were on the same page regarding cost issues, RFP compliance, and various other terms. Therefore, the deal did not take place under the then UPA government.
When the NDA came into power after 2014, it insisted that it closed the deal at a significantly better price than what was quoted earlier under the UPA regime. However, the detailed cost breakdown of the Rafale deal under the UPA and NDA government was not released in the public domain. Once the deal got signed, the opposition alleged that the government indulged in a “huge scam while conducting the Rafale deal.
Why India Needs the Rafale Jets?
After being charged by the Congress of financial corruption over the Rafale deal, the Indian government has decided to downplay the purchase of other military ammunition, which are badly required. The Rafale jets come with a number of features that would have helped the IAF immensely.
Now, not only the jets are stuck midway, sources from the Defence Ministry stated that the early tendering for the purchase of 110 medium fighters would also not take place and the IAF will have to manage with just 31 squadrons to ward off China and Pakistan, if they decide to join forces in a “two-front war”.
The Rafale jets would not only strengthen the Indian military but would also restore some balance. However, the controversy has landed the military amidst political crossfire, which is nothing but bad news.