Rafale Deal Still Not Final, But in Advanced Stage
DAC didn’t discuss deal but cleared a pending chapter of new acquisition policy MANOHARPARRIKAR
New Delhi: Contrary to reports that theRafalefighterdealwithFrancehas been sealed, defence minister Manohar Parrikar has said that negotiations are still on and the intention it to close the contract at the earliest, maintaining an earlier stance on progress in the acquisition process.
Parrikar, who returned from a tour to China, said that the deal would only be deemed clear till it was sent to the cabinet for approval — a prerequisite for defence contracts of such high value. Also, the high powered defence acquisition committee (DAC), which met on Thursday, did not discuss the contractbutclearedapendingchapter of the new acquisition policy.
“I can tell you this much that the deal is in quite an advanced stage and we intend to close it quite soon. Cannot still say that negotiations are totally cleared until we sign the deal or at least the deal is forwarded to Cabinet for approval,” Parrikar said.
On queries about a BJP online campaign had described the deal as finalised, the defence minister quipped that perhaps some media stories were taken too seriously by them.
As first reported by ET in January, India has been closing in on final details of the fighter deal at an expected price of ₹ 60,000 crore.
While most of the tricky areas around the mega contract — including offsets — have been resolved, issues on pricing remain, including on the support package for the fighters that will provide spares and service for the next 5-10 years.
The price is likely to be finalised around the Indian demand for ₹ 60,000 crore, with an offsets package that will boostdomesticindustrybutacompromise could be made by the Indian side ontheweaponspackageaswellassupport contract to bring down initial acquisitioncost.Thedealcouldbesealed within a month, sources involved in the process said.
Meanwhile, Parrikar said that during his recent visit to China, it was clearly conveyed that all terrorists should be treated equally harshly, referring to the blocking of India’s attempts to designate Masood Azhar as aterroristthatwasblockedbyBeijing.
“I expressed very clearly that there cannot be differentiation in terrorists. All terrorists are the same and they should be dealt with the same principle, including the issue they had obstructed at the UN,” he said.
Parrikar also said that Beijing had raised the issue of India agreeing to signamilitarylogisticssharingagreement with the US but said that it was not very ‘intensity’. He also said that India and China are working towards signing a new defence cooperation protocol later this year.