Antony Must Cancel Rafale Deal!

Fresh developments have made it imperative that the government cancel the Rs. 62000 crore Rafale fighter jet deal. The defence ministry is staggering from one corruption scandal to another. What is surprising is that even though warning signals are given in time the government refuses to heed them. Even while the government is mired in the Augusta Westland Helicopter scam the threat of the Rafale fighter jet scam is looming over its head. Readers might recall that one year ago in March 2012 it was pointed out in these columns that there was a cloud over the Rafale deal.

Broadly three reasons were cited why the deal was questionable.

First, the opposition shadow defence minister of Britain Ms. Seabeck criticized Prime Minister David Cameron for allowing Rafale to get the Indian contract over Britain’s Typhoon fighter jet also in the race. By implication Ms. Seabeck was alleging that the French got the contract because of superior public relations. Reading between the lines it meant that Britain did not attempt to counter kickbacks paid by the French. Thereby Britain lost many jobs while its employment situation was critical.

Secondly, to reinforce this innuendo London’s prestigious newspaper The Guardian went a step further. It wrote: “He (Cameron) appears to have no links with India’s real decision makers, the Gandhi family… Power within India’s ruling Congress Party rests with the Gandhis.” The obvious question arose why the Gandhis were relevant when no member of the family had direct responsibility in the Defence Ministry. It might be noted that this Guardian report came much before Italian authorities had disclosed in their charge sheet on the Augusta Westland Helicopter scam that 28 million Euros bribe had been paid to “the family” in India. Nor is it without significance that one of the two key middlemen who allegedly paid bribes in the Augusta Westland deal was also a middleman acting for the Dassault Company that manufactures the Rafale fighter jet. He is Mr. Christian Michel based in London.

Thirdly it was reported that two senior officials of the defence ministry who were members of the contract negotiation committee questioned the methods adopted by it to conclude that the Rafale fighter jet had the lowest bid for the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal. At the final stages Rafale had edged out the British fighter jet Typhoon while the other competitors from the US, Russia and Sweden had been eliminated earlier. Rafale knocked out the American F-16 and F-18, Russian MiG 35 and Sweden’s Gripen on the basis of technical performance. It defeated Britain’s Typhoon on life-cycle costs.

It might be recalled that in April 2009 Raphael was officially debarred during the technical evaluation stage for non-compliance. The aircraft was disallowed participation in the next stage of field trials. There were gaps in the technical bid submitted by Raphael team. The defence ministry sought clarifications from the French company but received unsatisfactory answers. Thereafter the ministry excluded Rafale from further participation in the tender. But mysteriously a month later Rafale was back in the race! A defence ministry official said: “Since it was only paper evaluation and the French company Dassault Aviation has now supplied the missing answers, the Defense Procurement Board has decided to allow Rafale to take part in the actual field trials.”

It is in this background that the latest omission by the Dassault Company which owns Rafale must be considered.

From the details provided by the company it is not clearly specified that the costs quoted by it include the transfer of technology and training related to the Rafale fighter jet. The defence ministry has sought a written commitment from the company that these be included in the cost. The Dassault Company is not providing the written commitment. The earlier act of non-compliance by the company was subsequently papered over by the defence ministry through an unconvincing explanation. Surely the defence ministry should not accept this latest act of non-compliance. If the company does not promptly do the needful Mr. Antony should cancel the deal. Enough is enough.

Mr. Antony as yet has a reputation for personal probity despite the scandals surrounding his ministry. People believe he is personally clean. But his reputation will be in tatters if he goes through with the Raphael deal. It is small comfort for the public if a minister does not personally accept bribes but allows those he cannot afford to displease to do so in order to safeguard his position. Mr. Antony cannot any longer afford to look the other way. He has to stop the rot. The ultimate tragedy is of course that even quality equipment sorely required by our armed forces is being denied to them because greedy politicians are not being prevented from putting their hands in the till. Because of corruption the nation is losing money. Because of corruption our armed forces are losing capability.

Related Articles:
Raphale Deal Under Cloud  
Why Antony Probed Rafale Deal! 


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

Top | Analysis

Views: 3353      Comments: 4

Comment I personnel believe that the French Made Rafale Fighter jet are much costlier because they are not agree on the agreement that the True transfer of technology and Even France want another agreement to manufacture the rest of the Fighter in India mean's it's common sense that when we got the true transfer of technology and all the kit+AESA RADAR technology we are getting than why we need to consider the French to built their kit in France their M88 Jet engine in France their Radar in France than I want to ask to Mr A.K Antony then what is meaning of true Transfer of Technology is it mean how to rotate the screw and Nut bolt or how to making fool the Indian innocent people and stolen their Tax which they pay by some sacrifice I think People will have to Understand and if these MLA get lip in the Scam we should never give them vote for their entire life jai Hind

07-May-2013 14:57 PM

Comment Let AK Antony loot 6200 Crores more (10% of the total business as commission). We the People of India are with Looters and R@pists!

Prathiba the Great
09-Mar-2013 11:06 AM

Comment If The Dassault Co. is NOT giving a written Commitment on Transfer of Technology & Training in the overall costs of the Rafale deal-Then the Deal MUST BE CANCELLED. The Congress Party,DRDO,HAL etc Repeatedly tell lies & Fool the Indian public Regarding Defence deals include Costs of Transfer of Technology. NO transfer of Technology is Done in most of deals Eg. Mig 21 deal. India still imports all vital spare parts, T-90 tanks, Tatra Trucks etc.. In Many cases Transfer of technology is MERE REASSEMBLY OF THE COMPONENTS & Not Real Transfer of Technology !! In case of the Scorpene Submarine deal-The excuse is That India [ie Mazagon Docks ] CANT absorb the Intricate Submarine technology. All these Disclosures call for a White Paper on DRDO,HAL,BEML,BEL etc who are Wasting Thousands of crores of Indian Tax payers money.

08-Mar-2013 11:26 AM

Comment Money is needed for 2014 re election. Anthony will have to look the other way and allow the rot to happen.

08-Mar-2013 08:15 AM

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