Rafale jet deal at an advance stage, clarifies Parrikar

RSTV Bureau
French fighter Rafale. A deal to acquire medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for Air Force is under process since 2004.

French fighter Rafale. A deal to acquire medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for Air Force is under process since 2004.

A day after the ruling BJP claimed that Rafale fighter jet deal with France has been “finalised” at USD 8.8 billion (Rs 59,000 crore), Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said it is not yet complete. Giving further clarification on the issue, Parrikar said the deal is at an “advanced stage” and the intention is to close it soon.

“I can only tell you this much that while the deal is in quite an advanced stage, and we intent to close it quite soon,” he said briefing the press in New Delhi.

The deal has become one of the most talked defence deals in the recent past, given the strategic edge it is tipped to give to the Indian defence arsenal.

Sharing on the micro-blogging site Twitter, the BJP had on Wednesday claimed that the Rafale combat aircraft deal has been “finalised” and the Narendra Modi government had saved over Rs 21,000 crore in the “re-negotiation” with the French government.

“I still can’t say that negotiations are totally cleared until we sign the deal or at least the deal is forwarded to the Cabinet for approval,” Manohar Parrikar added clarifying on the matter.

Earlier last week too, the Defence ministry had indicated that the deal was at an advanced stage and both India and France had narrowed down their differences over the pricing issue. The deal is expected to be finalised by May end. India has been bargaining hard with France over the pricing of the 36 fighter planes, a deal that was announced first by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April last year.

The cost of the 36 Rafales, as per the earlier tender while keeping the cost escalation into account, comes to around Rs 65,000 crore. India has been bargaining for a price that is less than 8 billion Euro (Rs 59,000 crore).

The ruling BJP’s twitter handle had on Wednesday claimed “The deal to buy 36 state-of-the-art Rafale aircraft from France at 12 billion dollar (Rs 80000 crore) was re-negotiated and finalised at 8.8 billion dollar (around Rs 59000 crore).”

The government “saved” public money and the deal resulted in gain of “technological knowledge” and “strengthening the air power to defend the border”, the BJP tweet had further claimed.

(With inputs from the PTI)