Purchase of more Rafales was raised by France last month: Defence Minister

Aaron Brown
November 20, 2017

Sitharaman said the talks for purchase of French Rafale fighter jets began in the year 2000 and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government did not take any concrete decisions after holding negotiations between 2004-2013.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi slammed the Narendra Modi government saying it was "shameful" that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was being silenced by the PM in connection with Rafale deal.

The Congress and the BJP have exchanged barbs over the multi-crore Rafale fighter aircraft deal.

She said the present government addressed the "vacuum" in the national security structure created by the indecisiveness of the UPA dispensation by "immediately" going for procurement of 36 aircraft in a fly-away condition. We have negotiated for 36 French fighter aircraft Rafale (at a price) lower than that in the contract.

She said the UPA government had sat over the proposed procurement of jets for 10 years.

Rahul also asked the Defence Minister to explain that "Why PM bypassed experienced HAL & gave the deal to AA rated businessman with no defence experience".

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Speaking at an interactive session organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce And Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) here on Friday, she said whatever is manufactured by the industry will turn invalid in a year's time in the defence world.

The deliveries of the aircraft will start from 2019 end, and will be ended in 2022.

"That was the grim situation when this government came to power in 2014 and, therefore, we had to move forward so that the air force is not left with unattended requirements for the sake of preparedness", she said.

"I am amazed over the patently baseless allegations being levelled by the Congress party on the whole Rafale deal", Prasad told reporters.

Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa had said in the annual press conference of IAF that full squadron strength will be reached by 2032.

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