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France has ‘delivered’ 3 Rafale jets; training has begun: Govt

MoS for Defence said the NDA government bargained with France better than UPA had done, getting a better price for a more potent war machine

France has handed over three Rafale jets to India but the planes are currently in France and are being used to train Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots and technicians. This information was given by Minister of State for Defence Shripad Y Naik in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had acquired the first Rafale jet at an airbase in France on 8 October. However, when the remaining two aircraft were delivered, it was not stated.

The first batch of four Rafale jets will reach India by May 2020. In September 2016, India and France signed a deal of Rs 58,000 crore for 36 Rafale jets.

‘France sold Rafale to India at a price 2.86% lower than what UPA had bargained for’

Naik did not say when the remaining two Rafale jets would be delivered to India. Naik said, a deal was struck by the UPA government over the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal, which was discussed until early 2014, but it did not materialise. In the subsequent deal, the price of the Rafale jet was 2.86% lower, he claimed.

The Congress had accused the Modi government of irregularities in the Rafale deal. The Congress had alleged that the cost of the deal finalised by the UPA government for Rs 526 crore was escalated by the Modi government, which bought 36 Rafale planes for Rs 1,670 crore. Referring to this allegation, Minister of State Naik said, “It is clear in the CAG report that the deal made on 36 Rafale is more advanced than before. It can prove to be better than the previous deal.”

On 14 November, the Supreme Court accepted the apology rendered by Rahul Gandhi for his “chowkidar chor hai” statement that he had attributed to the apex court with the implication that the court had accepted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rafale deal was not clean. Rahul Gandhi had apologised in the Supreme Court for his statement. The court has asked Rahul Gandhi to be more careful in future for his remarks in court.

The apex court also dismissed the reconsideration petitions filed in the Rafale case. The Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice SK Kaul and Justice KM Joseph upheld the judgment pronounced on 14 December 2018. The apex court said that it did not feel the need to order an FIR or SIT inquiry into this matter.

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