New Delhi: Three Rafale fighter jets have been handed over to the Indian Air Force and are being used to train IAF pilots and technicians in France, the government said on Wednesday. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh received the first Rafale jet at an air base in France on October 8.
The first batch of four Rafale aircraft will arrive in India by May 2020. India and France signed an Euro 7.87 billion (Rs 59,000 crore approximately) deal in September 2016 for 36 Rafale jets.
"Three Rafale fighter aircraft have been handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) till date which are being used for training of IAF pilots and technicians in France," Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said in reply to a question in Lok Sabha.
Naik did not clarify when the two other aircraft were handed over to India. He said that price of the jets was 2.86 per cent lower than the rates finalised during negotiations for procurement of the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
The MMRCA deal was negotiated by the UPA government. The final negotiations for it continued till early 2014 but the deal could not go through. "The performance audit report of CAG on capital acquisition in IAF presented in Parliament on February 13 has brought out that the entire package price of 36 Rafale procurement is 2.86 per cent lower than the audit aligned price compared to MMRCA process," Naik said.
The Congress has been accusing the Modi government of massive irregularities in the Rafale deal, claiming that it procured each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government.
"That CAG report has also brought out that Non Firm and Fixed (F&F) bid as done in the 36 Rafale IGA (Inter-Governmental Agreement) may be more advantageous than Firm & Fixed offer," said Naik. He said the pact was signed between Indian and French governments along with aircraft package supply protocol (APSP) signed with Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale jets. He said the weapons package supply protocol (WPSP) was signed with defence major MBDA.
"Indian government has not recommended any company for making Rafale jets for India," he added. MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the 36 Rafale jets.
Replying to a separate question, Naik said government has not signed any MoU for manufacturing of either Light Combat Aircraft or Su-30 MKI Aircraft with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
However, he said two contracts have been signed with HAL for procurement of total 40 LCA and a separate lot of 20 jets.
The minister said six contracts have been signed by the government with HAL for procurement of total 222 Su-30 MKI aircraft under licence production for IAF.