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The saddest part of this entire Rafale drama is that it is all coming at the cost of the India Air Force (IAF); we have compromised on patriotism, the ideology of putting the nation first always.

18 years ago, after the Kargil war, the IAF had said that India needed to upgrade its fighter jets and we still have not upgraded. Our 25 existing squadrons with MiG21 and MiG27 are on life support. By 2024-25, India will need at least 270 more aircrafts to take care of IAFs needs. And here we are, fighting within for almost two decades while IAF is left watching helplessly.

We have had ad nauseam debates on TV, social media and scores of media reports and blogs which have talked about this controversial deal. Based on some of the reading, here is a snapshot of what this hullaballoo is all about in an easy to read format.






Original proposal to buy 126 fighter aircraft was first mooted during Atal Bihari NDA Govt.  The BJP in 2015, under Modi cut down the order to 36 but with more  add-ons.

Under Manmohan Singh, the Govt continued with the tender for 126 aircrafts.

Why Rafale?



Scrapped the deal of UPA but decided to continue with the IAF approved Rafale.

In 2011, IAF based on its evaluation declared Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon the best fit. Rafale was lowest bidder in 2012 and negotiations began.

Whats the deal?

Scrapped the original deal with Dassault and did a Govt-to-Govt deal for ready-to-fly 36 Rafales. Offset deal under which France will invest 30% of the Rs.58,000 crore in India's military aeronautics-related research programmes and 20% into local production of Rafale components.

No deal and Transfer of Technology remained bone of contention. In the original proposal, 18 planes were to be manufactured in France and 108 in India in collaboration with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

The price

To pay about Rs. 58,000 crore or 7.8 billion Euros for 36 aircrafts – 15% to be paid in advance. Rafale will throw in spares and weaponry, including the Meteor missile.


Rs.79,200 crore for 126 aircrafts and wanted Dassault to be in charge of full quality control for jets assembled at HAL, which Dassault refused. Dassault  agreed to invest 50% offset in ventures with Indian firms though no mention of weapons package, training costs, supplies and logistics made.

Who is more expensive?

Rs.1611 per aircraft cost – Govt paying Rs.35,356 extra, which is too much after accounting for inflation and other thrown ins from Dassault.

Rs.629 per aircraft cost – the total cost for 36 aircrafts at Rs.22,644 crore


The controversial questions:

Right at the center, why was HAL dropped and Anil Ambani’s inexperienced company roped in for the “offset” deal under the gambit of ‘Make in India?’ If UPA, in its Bofors deal was corrupt, BJP can be blamed for crony capitalism.

Why so much secrecy over the pricing, where the Defence Minister takes cover under the gambit of secrecy clause and later herself agreeing to reveal the price? This act of hiding is what raised the hackles.

Dassault, in a Sept 2017 Press Release said that only rationale for the selection of Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group was because it owned land close to a runway. Really? Why did Dassault not consider an established Indian business entity in this field?

The question of pricing is debatable though thrice the price of the original? Yeh baat kuch hazaam nahi hue..

So while this fight continues, our IAF guards the country with outdated and obsolete weapons/technology and by the time these 36 aircrafts come in from 2019 to 2022, wonder how does the IAF protect us?

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