India’s multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet contract with France has not been finalised yet and is still in the negotiation stage, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar informed Lok Sabha on Friday.
“Rafael deal is not through or final. If it is at all finalised in future, it will take time. I would not like to comment on it as it is still in the negotiation stage,” he said during question hour.
The Rafale deal for 126 jets is estimated to cost over USD 20 billion over the next decade and is considered to be the biggest global defence tender.
The Defence Minister said the Defence Acquisition Council has recently cleared 44 projects worth Rs 1,34,000 crore and all of them were critical for the armed forces.
“We are trying to fast track our defence acquisition process. One example is bullet-proof jacket. We have already ordered 50,000 bullet proof jacket and 50,000 more are expected to be ordered shortly…,” he said.
Parrikar said his Ministry was ensuring that all three wings of the armed forces coordinate with each other for inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness, so that duplication is avoided while acquiring defence products.
Observing that some critical shortages in ammunitions were being addressed, he said a constant endeavour was made for upgrading the conventional equipment, developing new technologies and acquiring contemporary systems.
“Mismatches between requirements and availability can sometimes occur which are continually address by the on-going procurement process,” he said.
Parrikar said unsafe and outdated equipment were not utilised by defence forces. Ageing of equipment is a natural process and is dealt with through proper maintenance, obsolescence management, upgrades and acquisition of new equipment.
The Defence Acquisition Council has decided for procurement of light helicopters under the ‘buy and make’ category. Five cases of procurement of small arms are at different stages of the procurement cycle, Parrikar added.