‘Allegations on Rafale deal not based on facts’

New Delhi: Countering allegations of any wrongdoing in the Rafale deal signed between India and France, Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar Thursday said what is being alleged does not match with facts at all.

He was responding to queries by reporters on the sidelines of an international seminar – 8th Heli Power India – held at the Subroto Park in New Delhi, on allegations levelled by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on the government in connection with the Rs 58,000 crore deal for 36 Rafale jets.

The Congress has raised several questions on the deal, including over the cost escalation for the fighters. The government has rejected the charges, but did not disclose the price details, saying a 2008 India-France agreement bars it from doing so.

Gandhi had claimed that the price of the Rafale fighters “magically” rose from Rs 540 crore a piece finalised by the UPA government to Rs 1,600 crore per jet under the NDA dispensation.

“[Whoever is claiming such numbers is] misinformed and probably not aware of the facts that are known to us in the Indian Air Force,” Nambiar said.

“We were very much part of the negotiations with the French government, and we have the facts with us. And, I don’t think what is being alleged matches facts at all,” Nambiar said.

Asked about the price of a Rafale jet, alleged to be much higher than the previous negotiated price, he said, the total cost of acquisition has two elements – the first, the price itself which dictates the total cost and the second the payment terms.

“I can tell you that [with] the Rafale, we have gone for substantially lower [price] than [what] was on the table in 2008,” he said.

On allegations pertaining to offset contract being awarded to certain private players, he said: “The facts on record indicate that there is no truth in those allegations.”

India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for 36 Rafale fighters. The delivery is scheduled to begin September 2019.

The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.

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