Indian Air Force Launches 10-Point Defence Of Rafale Deal

Days after the Indian Air Force leadership went on the record to declare India’s 2016 Rafale deal a far better arrangement than the one under negotiation by a previous government — the heart of a political storm gripping the election-bound country — things went further today. Making its defence of the Rafale deal official, in the only way the military can, a formal presentation today led by an IAF Air Marshal put forth a 10-point list of reasons why 2016 deal was cleaner, better and more economical than any earlier one.

Here’s a slide from the presentation made a short while ago on Wednesday by Air Marshal SBP Sinha, currently chief of the IAF’s Central Command and earlier Deputy Chief during negotiations for the aborted earlier attempt to purchase 126 Rafales:

While the IAF’s current Vice and Deputy chiefs have weighed in on the controversy by defending a ‘beautiful aircraft’, the fact that the officer making today’s 10-point defence of the Rafale deal happened to be the point man for negotiations from Air Force Headquarters during the collapsed earlier negotiations strengthens the salvo. In a series of unusually forthright slides, quite clearly compelled by the current cloud over the deal, the IAF Air Marshal delves into virtually every aspect that has become politically contentious. For instance, he drives home the point that such a deal wouldn’t have been possible in any formulation other than a government-to-government arrangement, indicating clearly that the competitive earlier process was faulty:

He then goes on to affirm that the French government integrity on the Rafale deal, curiously throwing into question (a) earlier government-to-government deals by India (including with the French on Mirage 2000 jets) and, (b) the earlier negotiations for Rafales under the previous government.

Possibly the most powerful statement in the IAF officer’s presentation today has been a counter-attack on politics over Dassault Aviation’s choice of Reliance Defence as an offsets partner, and suggestion that HAL — an intended manufacturing partner in the earlier M-MRCA contest — had somehow been ditched in the current arrangement. Air Marshal Sinha here proffers an familiarly plaintive pitch about the jarring lack of level playing field between state-owned and private sector defence industries in the country. He begins with the provocative suggestion that political parties raise no objections to India spending billions on equipment sourced from private companies abroad:

Taking further its counter that to the suggestion that India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was ‘ejected’ from the Rafale proceedings in 2016, the IAF has also for the first time officially confirmed the well known rift between Dassault and HAL that notoriously stalled the M-MRCA in its final leg. Terming them ‘irresolvable differences’, the IAF will likely have only fed the political fire that’s burning.

The Rafale is a contender for the Indian Air Force’s 114 Make-in-India fighter program, a project in which the winning aircraft will need to built in India at a new facility. The Rafale is also a prospective contender for the Indian Navy’s requirement of 57 carrier-borne fighter jets for its future aircraft carriers.

The Indian Air Force’s staunch and well-defined defence of the Rafale comes a day after a civil society grouping of two former Union ministers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan accused the government of firing off the shoulders of the Indian Air Force, and that ‘brave men and women in uniform’ had been enlisted to defend the Rafale deal.

It won’t be surprising if politicians attacking the Rafale deal now accuse the government of manipulating the Indian Air Force into entering a conversation it would rather not have anything to do with. And this will be alongside discomfort over the idea of the Indian Air Force stepping at all into the daily crossfire between India’s ruling and opposition parties. As an Indian Air Force team readies to depart for France to scope out the first Indian Rafale that enters flight test this month, one thing is certain: an an election year, there are no bench-warmers.

[Slide Grabs Courtesy Snehesh Alex Philip]

5 thoughts on “Indian Air Force Launches 10-Point Defence Of Rafale Deal”

  1. Imported Air Force will suffer irreversible damage because of this controversy. First, the ex Imported Air Force chief incorrectly claimed that their process is worth patenting. Now, an underling claims that the same process is faulty. Are these guys professionals ? Shame on the politicians for abusing a service arm, shame on IAF for talking unprofessionally at all times. Their children will be ashamed to see what nonsense their parents speak

  2. IAF or for that matter the armed forces has a Lion’s share for the state of shambles we are in. But for their poor vision and colonial mindset the country would have progressed so gnificantly in the area of defense indigenisation.

  3. This is just pathetic. The way the entire Rafale deal has been conducted show how utterly incompetent and unprofessional Indian leadership is when crucial conducting defense procurement. The IAF and our MOD clearly needs to get its act straight. Every project gets delayed every contract gets delayed every homegrown weaponry gets delay. Delay at every corner shows that he entire system is rotten to the core.

  4. It’s a shame that our derated politicians are playing with the security of the Country. By discussing about Rafale pricing they want to expose our fighters capability to our enemies. As an Indian citizen, there is a question how much money did you people get for creating this Rafale issue? Specially for Rahul gandhi when he went to Chinese embassy during Doklam standoff. How much was offered to you to raise this controversy? What did Congress do these many years to increase India’s CNP? Why after 71 years of Independence in which Congress ruled 59 years, India could not become a developed country? Why infra was not built as happening now and why there was so much rise in corruption? First Congress/UPA need to reply in this and then talk of anything. Else they should leave this country.

  5. Sir wil l love d and me airforce m jana chata m ek filling officer bankar desh ki rakha kerna chahta hu es k liye mujhe jitna heard work kerna pade m karunga ye mera drums hai jo sach kerna hai thank you to

    Rohit kumar

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top