New Delhi: The Centre on Monday made public details of its decision to scrap the UPA government’s snail-paced negotiations for 126 Rafale fighter jets which had reached a stalemate and ink a new deal for 36 fully-loaded jets from Dassault after complying with the defence procurement procedure (DPP) laid down by the UPA in 2013.
The Centre’s document, made public after the Supreme Court’s October 31 order, said, “During this long period of inconclusive 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft process, our adversaries inducted modern aircraft and upgraded their old versions. They acquired better capability air-to-air missiles and inducted their indigenous fighters in large numbers. Further, they modernised and inducted aircraft with advanced weapon and radar capabilities. Our adversaries inducted more than 400 fighters (equivalent to 20 squadrons) during 2010-15.”
Citing induction of fourth and fifth generation stealth fighter jets by adversaries, the Centre said, “The combined effect of our own reducing combat potential and our adversaries enhancing their combat capabilities made the situation asymmetrical and extremely critical. An urgent need was felt to arrest the decline in the number of fighter squadrons in IAF and enhance their combat capabilities.”
Referring to the April 10, 2015, Indo-French joint statement, it said Dassault agreed to provide 36 Rafale jets (two squadrons) in flyaway condition, “on terms which would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation in the process which was already under-way (for 126 jets)”.
Negotiations between the Indian and French sides between May 2015 and April 2016 spanned 74 meetings, of which 48 were internal and 26 with the French side, the Centre said. On August 4, 2016, the negotiating team submitted its report. It was vetted by the finance and law ministries before being approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security on August 24, 2016. The inter-governmental agreement was signed on September 23, 2016, “for procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft along with aircraft package supply protocol, weapons package protocol, technical arrangement and offset contracts”, it added.