Will buy only 36 Rafales, no need for 126: Parrikar

Manohar Parrikar, Union Minister for Defence, Government of India. Photo: Shashi Ashiwal   | Photo Credit: SHASHI ASHIWAL

India has decided to buy only 36 Rafale fighter jets scrapping the earlier plan to acquire 126 of the French aircraft on grounds of huge cost.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar termed as “economically unviable” the previous UPA government’s 20 billion USD deal for purchase of the 126 Rafale fighter planes more than three years after France’s Dassault Aviation was declared the lowest bidder.

“We are not buying the rest. We are only buying the direct 36,” Mr. Parrikar told PTI in an interview when asked what will happen to rest of the requirement.

He said the UPA deal for 126 Rafales was way too expensive and it would have hampered other modernisation plans of the Indian military.

The deal would have required around Rs 1.3 lakh crore over a period of 10-11 years, he added.

“Would there be any money for any other work?” he asked.

“I also feel like having a BMW and Mercedes. But I don’t because I can’t afford it. First I can’t afford it and second I don’t need it. So, 126 Rafales was economically unviable. It was not required,” Mr. Parrikar said.

During his visit to France last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to buy 36 of the Rafale jets in a fly-away condition under a government-to-government (G2G) contract.

Mr. Parrikar underlined that the decision to acquire the 36 French jets came in view of the “urgent requirement” of Indian Air Force (IAF).

He also raised questions on the tendering process initiated by former Defence Minister A.K. Antony and said his predecessor had “hammered” the tender in such a way that the Rafale deal would have never seen the light of the day.

Rejecting criticism from the Congress that the prime minister had by-passed the Finance Ministry and the Defence Acquisition Council, the apex body of the Defence Ministry that takes the call on military projects, Mr. Parrikar said “the deal is yet to be inked” and they should hold their horses till the process was complete.

He expressed confidence that the Committee, that has been set up to work out the contract, would complete the task in the next 2-3 months.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 11:37:47 AM |

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