ABC of Rafale Controversy: What you need to know?

Image: NDTV

“By the passing time on Rafale Issue, India is facing trouble on many fronts. The Image of the country due to corruption allegations, maintaining relations with France and the need for the strengthening of Indian Air Force.”

The story starts way back in the Year 2000 when it was decided that Indian Air Force will have to replace a part of their ageing fleet. A global tender was issued in 2007. Under the tender, it was mentioned clearly that India needs 126 aircraft. 18 to be delivered in flyway condition and 108 to be assembled in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) a public sector undertaking. Among the received proposals two aircraft were shortlisted, first was “Eurofighter Typhoon” and the other was France’s very famous aircraft “Rafale”. After all the evaluation Rafale was selected and negotiations France was started in 2012.

The present government is in controversy of the reason that until the visit of Prime Minister Modi to France in April 2015 all the issues wherein silent bag and nobody was even interested about the deal but all of a sudden after the visit it was decided that India would buy 36 Rafale aircraft. There were new things added in the whole deal. Many things were changed and the deal became government to government and scraped the previously going negotiations with the “Dassault Aviation” for 126 aircraft.

Controversy emerged due to the delay and the changes that were made in the deal. Would it be the former Union Defense Minister A.K Antony indecisive approach or Modi Government’s then-Defense Minister Mr Manohar Parrikar statement that he was unaware of the decision? However, it has been told that the decision of 36 aircraft was formalized only after the nod from the Defense Acquisition Council and Cabinet Committee on Security.

The opposition is blaming the government on the pricing of the deal. The government announced that it has obtained 50% of offset undertaking which would give a boost of nearly 30,000 crores to the Make in India program in the defence sector. The cost has been told with India specific enhancement, 5 billion euros that is 36,900 crores or 1,025 crores per aircraft. Congress is claiming that it was negotiating with a lower price of rupees 526 crores per aircraft.

Government is has been continuously giving itself a clean-chit and not clearing the situation by giving the reason to 2008 agreement with France regarding exchange and reciprocal protection of classified or protected information which was also renewed in 2018 March.

Reliance Defense Limited and the Dassault group has a 51:49 joint venture. Congress questioned about the involvement of Reliance and is saying that the government has been continuously benefitting Reliance Defense Limited by giving them this deal. The government has everything refused this as well as Reliance also. However former French President Francois Hollande stated in an interview that the Reliance was proposed by the Indian government and France has no choice particularly.

Well, the Reliance Defense Limited was registered in March 2015 just before few weeks of the Prime Minister Modi’s official visit to France. An agreement was signed on 25th September 2016 and Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) facility was also started in Nagpur.

The whole situation has become complicated. One side the government is targeted for the price and another way there is a delay in providing aircraft to the Indian Air Force which is very much required as Indian Air Force’s squadron strength will drop by 23 in 2032.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Shubham Singh

Shubham Singh is a Research Analyst at The Kootneeti. His area of research includes India’s Foreign Policy and Disarmament Studies. He can be reached on

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