Delay by UPA in finalising MMRCA process necessitated Rafale deal: Govt to SC

Document said proposal to buy MMRCA was sent from IAF to government and tenders for 126 fighter jets were issued by India 2007.

New Delhi: Delay by the UPA government in finalising the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) process led to adversaries inducting 4th and 5th generation jets and there was an urgent need to "arrest the decline" in the number of IAF fighter squadrons, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday.

This was stated in the document which the Centre made public to justify the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

Giving the sequence of events on the Rafale deal, the document said a proposal to buy MMRCA was sent from the Indian Air Force to the government and tenders for 126 fighter jets were issued by India 2007.

"During this long period of inconclusive 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) process, our adversaries inducted modern aircraft and upgraded their older 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," said the document submitted to the apex court.

It said that as per available information, "adversaries inducted more than 400 fighters (equivalent to more than 20 Squadrons) during the period from 2010 to 2015".

"They not only inducted 4th Generation Aircraft but also inducted 5th Generation Stealth Fighter Aircraft. The combined effect of our own reducing combat potential and our adversaries enhancing their combat potential 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," the Centre said.

It said that an intent was brought out for acquisition of 36 Rafale jets (two squadrons) in "fly-away" condition, on terms which would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation in the process which was already underway.

"In the case for procurement of 36 Rafale aircrafts, all the requisite steps i.e. preparation of Services Qualitative Requirements (SQR), Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), Technical Evaluation and acceptance of technically qualified platform, commercial negotiations by Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) and approval of Competent Financial Authority (CFA) as per requirement of Defence Procurement Procedure 2013 have been followed," the document said.

India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of the Indian Air Force equipment. The estimated cost of the deal is Rs 58,000 crore.

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