Indian Airforce Deputy Chief calls out Rahul Gandhi’s Rafale mumbo jumbo

Just a day after Rahul Gandhi promised justice for IAF soldiers and martyrs, most of whom have been victims of crashes in planes bought by previous Congress governments and made by HAL, the Deputy Chief Air Staff has rebutted Rahul Gandhi’s allegations about the Rafale deal. In an exclusive interview with India Today, Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar has cleared the misinformation being spread about the size of offset business that Anil Ambani led Reliance is getting.

Flatly refuting the allegation of Reliance getting offset business worth ₹30,000 crore in the Rafale deal, Nambiar said that IAF has been part of the commercial negotiation for the purchase of MMRCAs, and no single party is getting business of that much amount, not even Dassault. Making a very significant revelation he said, “People are perhaps misinformed. We were a part of the commercial negotiations for Rafale. There is nothing like ₹30,000 crore to any one party. Dassault has to do offsets to a tune of ₹6,500 crore. Not more than that”. Rahul Gandhi has been alleging that ₹30,000 has been “stolen from HAL and given away to a given to a man with no SKILLS in making aircraft”.

It is important to note that the offset obligation of Dassault is ₹6,500 crore, not ₹30,000 as being alleged by the Congress party. Many would perhaps wonder how that is possible since the Rafale deal is around ₹58,000 crore and hence the offset obligation should ideally be ₹29,000 crore. One could ask why IAF deputy chief is saying that it is ₹6,500 crore only? The IAF deputy chief’s statements would mean that the deal with Dassault is worth ₹13,000 crore.

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To understand this, we need to know how aeroplanes are purchased. They are not bought as one piece like a car, but the major components are bought separately from respective manufacturers which are fitted into the plane by the manufacturer of the plane. In case of civilian aircraft, separate deals are signed with aircraft makers (Boeing, Airbus etc) and engine makers (GE, Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney etc). In the case of fighter jets, the number of components and their supplier is much more, and buyers deal directly with them. Apart from the main airframe, a fighter plane has an engine, weapon systems, missiles, radar systems, electronic warfare systems, evasion systems, ejection seats etc, all of which are made by different companies.

In case of the Rafale deal, there are four main suppliers, Dassault, Safran which makes the engine, Thales which makes several electrical, electronic systems and sensors, and MBDA which will supply missiles. The jets will carry advance missiles like Meteor and Scalp, and cutting-edge RBE 2 AESA radar. That’s why Dassault’s share in the deal is ₹13,000 crore, as the rest amount will be paid to other component and weapon suppliers. It this, the Thales deal is around $2 billion, and they have their own offset obligation of $1 billion, or around ₹7,250 crores. The Rafale will also have several Israeli components, including the Litening pod.

All these companies will have to fulfil their offset obligations. Thales has formed a joint venture with Reliance Defence, while the company already have a JV with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). Safran has a Joint venture with HAL to make parts for the engine. Apart from the JV with Reliance, Dassault has signed agreements with several companies including BEL, L&T, Mahindra etc. Therefore it is clear that Reliance can’t get ₹30,000 from the deal as Rahul Gandhi alleges. That is more than the approximate figure Dassault and Thales is receiving in total, which whom Reliance Defence has JVs. Reliance has already said that its share in the offset is ₹6,600. According to IAF sources, the share of DRDO in offset is highest.

The Air Marshal also added that India has got a better price, better maintenance terms, better delivery schedule, and a better performance logistics package in the deal to buy 36 fighter jets.

This assertion by Indian Air Force proves that Rahul Gandhi is spreading nothing but lies about the Rafale deal, which is being busted on a regular basis.

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