The decision to partner with Reliance Defence on Rafale aircraft deal was taken ‘freely,’ Dassault Aviation said in a press release on Thursday, October 11, 2018.
The clarification came a day after reports in the French media suggested that the company was made to choose Reliance Defence in a “trade-off” to get the Rafale aircraft deal from India.
“Dassault Aviation has freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This joint venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), was created on February 10, 2017. Other partnerships have been signed with other companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL. Other negotiations are ongoing with a hundred-odd other potential partners,” Dassault Aviation said.
French investigative journal Mediapart had reported that Dassault Aviation found it mandatory to have Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as an offset partner to clinch the Rafale deal. The journal said it was a “trade-off.” It cited documents from Dassault Aviation that showed that it had no option but to take Reliance as the offset partner.
The clarification from Dassault Aviation forms the backdrop of a visit to France by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday. During the visit, she is expected to assess the progress of the supply of 36 Rafale jets by Dassault to the Indian Air Force under a ₹58,000 -crore deal.