New Delhi: Amid the ongoing controversy over the Rafale fighter jet deal, Dassault Aviation (the makers of the Rafale jets) has reportedly announced that it will deliver the fighter jets to India from 2019. Dassault Aviation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Trappier told this to this to Reuters ahead of the world’s largest business jet show in Orlando.
The development comes after Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent visit to France, where she visited a Rafale manufacturing facility near Paris to take stock of progress in their production of the 36 fighter jets.
As per the official sources, during her visit, Sitharaman spoke to officials of the Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, and took stock of progress in the production of the fighter jets .
Congress president Rahul Gandhi had also raised questions on the Defence Minister’s visit to France. He had asked,”Why has suddenly Defence Minister rushed to France to Rafale’s plant? What is the emergency?”
India had inked an agreement with Dassault in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one- and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris. Since then, the deal has faced criticism from Opposition parties especially Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress has been accusing PM Modi of forcing Dassault to select Reliance as an offset partner to help the Indian firm “pocket” Rs 300 billion —the entire estimated offset amount. However, the government has rubbished all allegations saying no government had any say in the decision as the agreement between Dassault and Reliance was a commercial pact between two private parties.