Any comparison of the cost for the MMRCA contract for 126 aircraft which never materialised with the cost of the 36 aircraft procured in 2016 under the NDA government is “fallacious”, a Defence Ministry spokesperson said in response to a report in The Hindu newspaper that the Rafale aircraft bought in 2016 was 41 per cent more expensive. He also said that “selectively picking certain aspects while ignoring others, creates doubts by vested interests on a matter of vital national security”.
“All the issues have been answered in detail by the Government at various fora and most recently by the Raksha Mantri in an open debate in the Parliament,” the Defence Ministry spokesperson said, adding, “The deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in 2016 achieved the objectives of better price, better delivery period and better terms compared to the earlier proposal.”
He said, “The Supreme Court has gone through the details of pricing and commercial advantage. The Supreme Court has not found anything adverse in the deal and has refused to order an investigation as sought by the Petitioners. The CAG has been given access to all the files related to Rafale deal. It is best to await the report of an authoritative agency like the CAG.”
“Decisions on the deal were taken after due process of inter-ministerial consultation,” he answered in response to the charge that after a 4:3 split in the Indian Negotiating Team, the decisions were taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On the contention that the fixed cost of design and development of India Specific Enhancement of Euro 1.3 billion which was spread over 36 aircraft instead of 126, the spokesperson said, “The India Specific Enhancements were part of the requirements of the Indian Air Force to achieve tactical superiority over our adversaries. These were part of the 2007 bid and continued to be part of the 2016 deal. The cost of the India Specific Enhancements was on a fixed basis in the 2007 bid which was negotiated down in the 2016 deal.”
“However, to compare the cost for the MMRCA contract which never materialised with the cost of the 36 aircrafts procured in 2016 is fallacious. The author while indicating the price of ISE as 1.4 Bn Euro in 2007 has failed to include the in-built escalation factor that would have worked between 2007 and 2015,” he added.