Contract For 36 Rafales Include Weapons Suite Superior To The Earlier Case

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As a fighter pilot with long experience, do you think Rafale fully meets India’s operational requirements?

I had the opportunity to fly the F-16 in the US, Gripen in Sweden and Eurofighter in the UK during official visits to these countries as chief of air staff. I also flew the Rafale in India during ‘Exercise Garuda’ with the French air force. These fighter aircraft are very impressive in their performance, equipped with state-of-the-art systems and weapons to execute operational tasks. It is difficult to choose one from the other and only experts can evaluate their capabilities against well-formulated specifications.

Rafale is a multi-role aircraft which can fully meet IAF’s operational requirements in the configuration that has been ordered. It is one of the best aircraft in the world in its class and was selected after a very competitive bidding process and due diligence. India has been able to obtain many add-ons that will substantially enhance combat capability of the aircraft and provide the IAF with technological and combat edge.

Government has claimed that the deal for 36 Rafales is superior in terms of weapons suite and other capabilities than the one negotiated earlier. Do you agree?

The contract for 36 Rafales includes weapons suite much superior to the earlier case and to many contemporary fighters. The weapons suite includes Meteor and variants of MICA (a weapons system) beyond visual range missiles. Considering national security requirements, higher capability of Rafale aircraft ordered now is more apt for IAF.

How do the Rafales for India compare with aircraft supplied to French air force or other air forces?

The Rafales for IAF will have several India specific enhancements, which are not present in Rafales operated by other countries. These capabilities pertain to enhancements in radar performance, advanced electronic warfare suite and ability to operate from high altitude airfields – unique to our terrain and climatic conditions.

There are allegations of violations of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)? Can you tell us about this intergovernmental agreement (IGA)?

DPP clearly allows procurements under IGA from friendly foreign countries and many procurements have been through IGA. Rules require cabinet approval before entering into agreement. The procurement process in MoD (ministry of defence) is well established and all the details are documented. I am aware that due approvals were taken in this case too and the IGA was signed only after approval of the CCS (cabinet committee on security).

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