Amid the raging storm over Rafale deal, IAF Deputy Chief Air Marshal R Nambiar, in an exclusive interview to Republic TV’s Snehesh Alex Philip, said that Government of India had no role in selection of Reliance as the offset partner of Dassault Aviation.
“The existing offset guideline specifies that the offset contract need not specify the Indian offset partner at the point of signing the contract because this require a lot of negotiation. As far as Government of India was concerned, we negotiated with Dassault for the offset contract for the aircraft and we negotiated with MBDA for the weapons offset contract. We were not involved with Reliance when this deal was negotiated. There was no Indian offset partner specified. It was left to Dassault to decide who they went with. This was done on purely commercial terms,” said the IAF Deputy Chief.
The IAF Deputy Chief's statement comes even as the opposition-led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi has been claiming the Union government snatched the contract from HAL and gave it to Dassault.
Further, blunting opposition’s claim, the IAF Deputy Chief said that the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets was much better and cheaper than what was negotiated earlier. IAF Deputy Chief R Nambiar also explained that vanilla price is 9 per cent cheaper, with weapons package, it is 20 percent cheaper, and the overall, with payment plan into consideration, it is 40 percent cheaper.
“We had many rounds of negotiations. It went on for 14 months. The Indian side was very insistent that we get a better price. The current offer is 9 percent better than the previous offer. The overall package is better than the previous one by almost 20 percent. And, we got a better payment plan of as much as of 40 percent cheaper than the previous price,” IAF Deputy Chief Air Marshal R Nambiar.
The opposition has been claiming that the previous Rafale deal was much cheaper than the current one.
Narrating his experience of flying the Rafale aircraft, IAF Deputy Chief Air Marshal R Nambiar said:
"It was a wonderful experience to have flown in such a modern aircraft. This particular aircraft was configured with equipment that the Indian Air Force considers mandatory in a modern fighter. Therefore, it is markedly different from the Rafale that French Air Force has."
IAF Deputy Chief also said that the first Indian Rafale jet is expected to fly in another 2 weeks' time
“The first Indian Rafale jet is another platform which we had a chance to inspect. It is at a very advanced stage of hitting up and it is expected to fly in another 2 weeks’ time. We believe by the 14th of October, we will have its first flight,” he said.
On September 2o, the Indian Air Force successfully conducted the inaugural testing of the first Rafale plane manufactured for India. IAF Deputy Chief Air Marshal Nambiar, who was among the first test pilots of the LCA Tejas program, was tasked with the responsibility to take forward the maiden test.