French government denies ordering Rafale at 50% of India’s rate

NEW DELHI: Yet another controversy over the 7.8 billion euro (Rs 59,000 crore) deal for 36 Rafale fighters erupted on Tuesday, with some reports claiming France on Monday had ordered 28 of the jets at half the cost compared to what India had paid.

But the French government promptly refuted the reports, stressing that the 2 billion euro figure being mentioned for the purchase of the 28 fighters was in fact meant for development of the new F4 variant of the Rafale.”France yesterday did not announce any new aircraft acquisition order! The amount being referred to will finance solely the new F4 standard for the Rafale. The 28 aircraft remaining to be delivered to the French Air Force are part of previous acquisition contracts,” tweeted French ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler.

The IAF, incidentally, is getting the F3R variant of the Rafale, with the 36 jets slated for delivery in the 2019-2022 timeframe, under the deal inked by the NDA government in September 2016.

The original F1 standard Rafale was first upgraded to F2, with air-to-ground and air-to-air weapon capabilities, while the F3 and F3R ones enhanced its versatility further. As per fighter manufacturer Dassault Aviation, the validation of the F4 standard is planned for 2024, with some functions becoming available as of 2022.

Congress has alleged that the “non-transparent” Rafale deal was vastly overpriced, violated defence procurement procedures, included no transfer of technology, and was intended to benefit the Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Defence as the “offsets partner” of Dassault Aviation at the cost of defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. Strongly rejecting these allegations, the NDA government says it secured a “better deal” in terms of price, capability, equipment, delivery and maintenance.

Source: Times of India