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‘Rafale deal marks end of request for proposal process’

‘Rafale deal marks end of request for proposal process’
The joint statement at the end of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France said it all. The Rafale deal that India struck with France was an inter-governmental agreement that superceded the negotiations and the draft agreement that defence ministry and representatives of Dassault – the manufacturers of the fighter aircraft – had concluded. A former top honcho of the IAF, who was instrumental in drafting the original request for proposal (RFP) told Millennium Post, “This is the end of the road for the RFP process and the plan to have 126 Rafales.” Meetings were scheduled on Monday and the next few days for working on the details of the inter-governmental agreements, a Dassault source stated.

The 36 Rafale jets that the IAF is acquiring in fly-away condition “as quickly as possible” Modi and the French PM, Francois Hollande “Agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft on terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway,” the joint statement had stated. Defence ministry faced a logjam in its three-year long negotiation with Dassault when the company tried to go beyond the original RFP and sought to up the ante by proposing a higher price than what had made them L-1, in the bid for acquiring MMRCA.

The French company had also been dragging its feet in signing an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for licenced manufacture of 108 aircrafts. Dassault had been seeking guarantees from the Indian manufacturer quality guarantees that would have absolved the former from the responsibility of any such issues.

Modi’s agreement with Hollande has twin motivations. One, the 36 Rafales would constitute at least two squadrons for the IAF. The fast depleting squadron strength that Millennium Post had highlighted earlier in terms of how the service was managing within those constraints, will barely be alleviated buy this deal. The other motivation of the Modi deal is also to do a good turn to France – with an ailing economy as the rest of Europe.

Future Rafale deals will also be govt-to-govt, says Parrikar

Making it clear that one car cannot travel on two roads at the same time, India on Monday said all future deals for Rafale fighters would also be through government to government route, indicating that the $ 20 billion MMRCA tender has virtually been scrapped. The development came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to buy 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in fly-away condition from the French government directly, sidestepping a gruelling three-year negotiations for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft(MMRCA) tender.
Pinaki Bhattacharya

Pinaki Bhattacharya

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