The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birendra Singh Dhanoa made a remark in favor of the negotiation for Rafale purchase being a good deal cracked by the government.
While addressing the media at Adampur Air Force station near Jalandhar on Thursday, Dhanoa spoke in reference of the accusations made by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and said, “It is not overpricing. We have negotiated for 36 French fighter aircraft Rafale (at a price) lower than that in the contract. The government has negotiated a very good deal.”
Congress maintains that this deal does not bring any technological benefits to India and the deal has been entirely changed in order to benefit a businessman as charged by BJP.
Dhanoa supports that the deal was a “government-to-government contract” and without explaining the specifics he said, “It is definitely a better deal. It is lower than what was there in the MRMCA contract.” The Air Chief Marshal said that IAF was getting 36 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) at a greatly “negotiated price”.
Two aircrafts had already been purchased in ready condition in case of emergency and the IAF is getting 50 percent offset, said Dhanoa.
About technology transfer, he said, “Technology may not be going to the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) but it is coming to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and then to a lot of Indians”.
Dhanoa informed that the government had made a deal for two squadrons of Su 30. “The drop-down will be made up by two Rafale, two Su 30, two LCA squadrons and 80 more aircraft which will give four more squadrons,” he said. However, the drop-down did not affect the performance of the force he added.
At present the strength of the IAF squadrons is 33 and the government has authorized 42 squadrons. “It does not mean that we cannot carry out operations. We can do restricted operations. For carrying out full-spectrum operations the IAF needs a certain amount of force,” he said. Dhanoa added, “There was an order of 272 aircraft and once again we were 35 short by March 2017.”
The IAF Air Chief Marshal also said about a contract being signed in March 2006 for 20 Tejas aircraft to be delivered between April 2009 and December 2010. He also informed about induction of Mark 2 with higher thrust engines and new weapons by 2027.
“Out of these 20 aircraft, only five were received … Again a contract was signed in December 2010 for 20 more aircraft to be delivered between June 2014 and December 2016. So, we have already committed to 40 aircraft in addition to 83 more Tejas,” he said. “Gradually we will make advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, moving from low medium to high technology aircraft,” Dhanoa added.