Perhaps realising that people are getting bored listening to the same lies on the Rafale deal, today Congress president Rahul Gandhi added a new lie to his long list of Rafale lies. While talking to a group of women in Odisha on the occasion of Women’s Day, he said that the engine for the Rafale fighter jet was to be made in the engine plant of HAL in nearby Koraput.
During his interaction with few female college students, one girl had asked that Congress has claimed if the party comes to power in Odisha, it has promised free education on engineering and medicine, but what the party is offering for the girls interested in the sports sector. The Congress president didn’t have an answer for the question, so he did what he does best these days, saying that the sports infrastructure in Odisha is bad because Narendra Modi gave 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani in the Rafale deal.
After that Rahul Gandhi gave a short speech on now familiar allegations on the Rafale deal. The young girl, who is interested in sports like badminton and hockey, and wanted to know Congress plans for developing the sports sector in the state, was listening to how Modi snatched some aeroplane deal from HAL and gave way to Anil Ambani. He added that the Koraput engine plant of HAL was going to manufacture engines for the Rafale jet, but Modi gave that business to Anil Ambani.
Although Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has an engine manufacturing and overhauling unit in Koraput, it is absolutely false to claim that the plant was scheduled to make Rafale engines.
Under the original bid to buy 126 MMRCA Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), which was won by Dassault Rafale, 108 planes were to be made in India by HAL, after 18 jets were to be made in France. But that deal was never finalised due to differences between Dassault and HAL. Dassault was not willing to take responsibility for HAL made planes, and it also didn’t agree with the fact that HAL had demanded 2.7 times higher man-hour compared to Dassault, which would have pushed the cost higher. The CAG has also noted that if HAL demand was accepted, the Rafale would not have remained the lowest bidder, making the entire process faulty.
The second and important point is that, even if the deal was finalised, or if Dassault wins the new bid for IAF jets and makes the Rafale in India, there is no certainty that the HAL plant in Odisha will get the order for making the engine. When Rafale was announced as the winner in 2012, HAL had started preliminary work for the production of the jets in India, and the company had said that it had shortlisted two locations in its HAL estate in Bangalore for making the airframe and engines of the jets. This means HAL was preparing to make the engines in its Bangalore facility, not Koraput.
In the case of buying aircraft, the deal for the engine is done separately with the engine manufacturer. In case of Rafale, it is French company Safran (formerly Snecma) which makes the Snecma M88-2 engines used in the Rafale jets. Safran already has a joint venture with HAL to manufacture some parts of the M88 engine in India. Snecma HAL Aerospace Private Limited plant is located in Whitefield Industrial area in Bengaluru. Which means, if Safran makes the engines in India, they will most probably make it in their own JV company with HAL, not the HAL engine plant in Odisha.