Amid political controversy surrounding the multi-billion Rafale fight jet deal, top French envoy said that there’s nothing wrong with the plane and that Narendra Modi government made a good decision. Talking to media at Bengaluru’s Aero India show, Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India said, “I don’t see any scandal. What I see is a very good aircraft which has been purchased by Government of India and which comes probably to fly here in the sky of Bengaluru and which will join Indian Air Force within 6 months.”
Top envoy’s statement comes at a time when the political parties in India are embroiled in war of words over the fighter plane. Many see this as major agenda in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections. Recently, a CAG report had said that the Narendra Modi government bought Rafale fighter planes at a cheaper rate.
The CAG report on Capital Acquisitions in Indian Air Force, which was tabled in Rajya Sabha, did not mention about the exact price of each fighter jet. The audit noted that the IAF did not define the ASQRs (Air Staff Qualitative Requirements) properly. As a result, none of the vendors could fully meet the ASQRs. ASQRs were changed repeatedly during the procurement process. It created difficulties during technical and price evaluation and affected integrity of competitive tendering; one of the main reasons for delay in acquisition process. Objectivity, equity and consistency of technical evaluation process wasn't evident in Technical Evaluation Report.
Meanwhile, amid ongoing controversy over Rafale fighter plane deal, the Indian Air Force has said that the combat jet programme is ‘on schedule’ and that the first aircraft will be delivered in September later this year. “The delivery will take place in France and the aircraft would be brought back to India,” an air force official was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. Earlier report suggest that the Indian Air Force plans to deploy Rafale fighter jets at strategic air bases near Pakistan and China. Interestingly, three Rafales will take part in the ongoing Aero idnia show.