New Delhi: IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa has come out in favour of the Government on the controversial Rafale deal, saying the move was only to add to the depleting fleet the force had. At a seminar here, Dhanoa said, “By providing the Rafale and S-400, the Government is strengthening the Indian Air Force to counter the shortfalls of our depleting numbers.”Also Read - IAF Fighter Planes In Air After Iranian Plane Heading To Beijing Receives Bomb Threat

“No country is facing the kind of grave threat that India is confronted with. Our neighbours are not sitting idle. China is modernising its air force significantly. Intentions of our adversaries can change overnight. We need to match force level of our adversaries,” he added. He added how India just did not have the numbers to match those ‘adversaries’. “We do not have are the numbers, against a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons, we are down to 31. Even when we do have 42 squadrons, we will be below the combined numbers of two of our regional adversaries,” he said. Also Read - IAF to Induct First Made-in-India Light Combat Helicopter Today | Major Features Explained

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The statement comes close on the heels of the growing clamour over the Rafale deal. On Tuesday, addressing a press conference, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan had alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was personally “culpable” in the scam.

Though Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar has said the allegations being made against the deal do not match with facts. At a seminar last week, Nambiar was asked about the price of the jet to which he said, “This, who are claiming such numbers, I think they are misinformed and probably not aware of the facts that are known to us in the Indian Air Force.”

Asked about the price of a Rafale jet, alleged to be much higher than the previously negotiated price, he said, the total cost of acquisition consists of two elements – the price itself that dictates the total cost and second is the payment term. “I can tell you that the Rafale that we have gone for is substantially lower than the price that was on the table in 2008,” he said.