New Delhi,Deevakar Anand: Even as India is to buy 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday that country’s “options are open” on acquiring the rest of the total 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), the orders for which were given in 2012.
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He also said that further purchase of Rafale jets would be through government to government negotiation raising questions whether the $20 billion tender of 2012 to buy jets from the French firm Dassault Aviation will be scrapped.
Parrikar, though stopped short of confirming this but said that the 2012 deal to buy 126 jets had got into a “vortex” (a whirlpool) and was “unlikely to come out of the loop”. “It was taking too much of time,” he told reporters.
“A car cannot run on two roads,” he said, adding that a government to government negotiation was needed to break the “vortex” and taking into consideration India’s strategic needs.
A government to government initiative will give us a better deal, he said without divulging the actual terms on which the 36 Rafale jets are to be imported. “We always want to buy the best,” he said.
His latest remark can also be seen as India’s posturing that can get it a better deal from Dassault.
36 Rafale jets will give much-needed succour to the Indian Air Force by adding two more combat squadrons to its strength.
However, shelving of the 2012 tender for 126 Rafale jet would mean a jolt to the ‘Make in India” component of the deal according to which 18 aircraft were to be bought in “fly-away” condition, and 108 were to be made operational by state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) through the transfer of technology clause.
Parrikar said that a decision will be taken later on the terms of the ‘Make In India’ component in acquiring the aircraft.