Rafale deal: Even during the UPA era, Dassault did not want to partner with HAL

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has been repeatedly telling the world that the Modi government bypassed the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in favour of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence, insinuating kickbacks were received by the Modi government for the deal.

Today morning Congress President took things one step further and tweeted a link where former HAL chief T S Raju claims that the Rafale jets could have been built in India.

In the article by Hindustan Times, T S Raju claims that while HAL may not have been able to build the jets at the desired cost, the company did have the ability to make fighter jets. While it is important to note what T S Raju said, it is also equally important what he has not said. Scientist and columnist Anand Ranganathan put out a thread of tweets with articles busting the myth that state-owned HAL had the ability to make fighter jets.

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Back in 2015, NDTV had reported that Dassault Aviation had raised concerns about the technical inadequacies of HAL.

2015 NDTV report speaking of technical incompatibility of Dassault and HAL

Dassault had flagged a concern that modernization of HAL’s technology could be a time-consuming process since they would need to upgrade the labs to meet the French standards.

Another April 2015 Outlook article speaks about one of the reasons the Rafale jets deal was being stalled.

French describing HAL as ‘unprofessional and unreliable in the extreme’.

An April 2013 article in India Today, from the time UPA 2 was in power, states how ‘HAL’s poor track record overshadowed IAF plans to buy the Rafale jets’.

2013 report saying HAL not technologically capable of handling Rafale

It is thus clear, that as far as Rafale is concerned, the capabilities of HAL have been in question since the Congress has been in power. One wonders then why Rahul Gandhi has been raising this issue over and over again. Is Rahul Gandhi unaware of what the situation was while his own government ruled, or ignoring facts and focussing on rhetoric serves a political agenda even if the Nation’s interests aren’t being served?

While the facts are for all to see, this is not an attempt to put down HAL, which has made the country proud. Recently, Tejas LSP-8, a single-seat, single-jet engine, a multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, successfully completed wet (actual) engagement by transferring 1,900 kg fuel from IAF IL78 mid-air refuelling tanker. With this, India joined the elite group of countries who have developed the Air-to-Air (AAR) system for a military class of aircraft. In August, India joined the select club of US, Europe, Russia and China for having the capability of Deck Landing of fighter aircraft.

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