Congress Party’s Falsehood on Rafale – Arun Jaitley

15 Questions that Expose Congress Party’s Falsehood on Rafale

By – Arun Jaitley

Why these questions?

Considering the security environment around India, the highest standards of defence preparedness are required. After the Kargil experience, the Armed Forces and the Raksha Mantralaya were of the opinion that combat ability of the Indian Air Force to strike at targets needs to be radically improved.  This need was first recorded by the Raksha Mantralaya in the year 2001.

Considerations of the national security demanded that the IAF has the best available aircraft with the appropriate weaponry loaded on it. In principle approval for acceptance of necessity of procurement of 126 replacement aircrafts was recorded by the Raksha Mantri way back on 1st June, 2001.  After the UPA Government came into power, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of 126 medium multi-role combat aircrafts.  An aircraft without weaponry is of little use in a war.  It is only a flying instrument.  It adds to the combat strength of the forces only when it is loaded with the requisite weaponry, which enables it to strike targets.  The UPA Government issued a request for proposal on 28th August, 2007 and found two vendors, viz., M/s Dassault Aviation and M/s EADS to be compliant to the RFP requirements.  It took the UPA five more years to commence the negotiations and in January, 2012 the Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) determined Dassault Aviation to be L1.

For reasons best known to the UPA Government, on 27th June, 2012, the deal was directed to be re-examined, which effectively meant that the entire eleven-year exercise was abandoned and the process was to be undertaken afresh.  India’s squadron strength was depleting because of age.  This slow and casual approach of the UPA Government seriously compromised national security requirements.

The NDA approach

On 10th April, 2015, the Government of India and the French Government issued a joint statement where India decided to procure 36 Rafale aircrafts from the French Government on terms better than the ones conveyed by Dassault in the L1 bid of 2007.  The same was approved by the DAC on 13th May, 2015 and finally the agreement, after a detailed procedure, was signed on 23rd September, 2016.

The false campaign

A false campaign based on untruth has been launched by the Congress Party casting a cloud on the Inter-Governmental agreement.  The principal arguments of this campaign are the following:

(i)  The NDA Government paid higher price than what the UPA would have paid if the deal would have completed on the basis of the 2007 offer of Dassault.

(ii) Proper procedures such as negotiations by the Contract Negotiation Committee and approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) were not obtained.

(iii) A private industrialist in India was favoured and the interest of public sector undertaking was compromised.

Each one of the above issues raised is based on complete falsehood.  It is expected from national political parties and its responsible leaders to keep themselves informed of the basic facts before they enter a public discourse on defence transactions.  The Congress Party and its leader, Shri Rahul Gandhi, are guilty on three counts:

(i)  The UPA delayed the deal by over a decade and seriously compromised national security.

(ii) Every fact that Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party has spoken on pricing and procedure are completely false.

(iii) Its effort of raising these issues is to further delay a defence procurement so that India’s defence preparedness further suffers.

The questions

            I have, therefore, decided to ask the following questions to the Congress Party and its President.  Needless to say that if replies are received in the public space or even if there is an issue diversion and no reply is received, I would be constrained to come out with further specific facts which establish truth as a victim of Shri Rahul Gandhi and his party merely peddling his falsehoods.  Needless to say that I am constrained by the secrecy clause, which exists in the Contract and whatever I ask or respond to would be constrained by that limitation.  My question to Shri Rahul Gandhi and his Party are as follows:

On Delay

(1)   The UPA was a Government which suffered from a decision- making paralysis.  Do you agree that the delay of over one decade was only on account of the incompetence and indecisiveness of the UPA Government?

(2)   Did this delay seriously compromise national security?  Is not the medium multi-role combat aircraft required by our forces to identify and strike at targets particularly when two of our neighbours have already enhanced their strength in this area?

(3)  Was this delay and eventual abatement of the purchase by the UPA based on collateral considerations as had been witnessed in earlier transactions such as the purchase of the 155 mm Bofors gun?

Unsure of facts

(4)  How is it that Shri Rahul Gandhi quoted a price of Rs.700 crores per aircraft in Delhi and Karnataka in April and May this year?  In Parliament, he reduced it to Rs.520 crore per aircraft, in Raipur he increased it to Rs.540 crores; in Jaipur he used the two figures – Rs.520 crores and Rs.540 crores in the same speech.  In Hyderabad, he invented a new price of Rs.526 crores.  Truth has only one version, falsehood has many.  Are these allegations being made without any familiarity with the facts of the Rafale purchase?

(5)  Is Mr. Gandhi or the Congress Party aware of price comparison?  Is Mr. Gandhi aware of the aircraft price, which was quoted in 2007 in the L1 bid?  Is he aware that there was an escalation clause, which by 2015 when the NDA struck the price deal, would have further escalated the price?  Would not the escalation clause have continued to escalate the price till each of the aircraft was supplied?  Have the significant exchange rate variations between Rupee and Euro during the same period been considered?

(6)  Is he aware of the fact that if the basic aircraft price on which UPA was to purchase the aircraft along with the escalation clause is compared at the price with the better terms on which the NDA Government signed the deal.  The basic aircraft price itself is 9% cheaper under the NDA than it was under the UPA?

(7) Can Shri Rahul Gandhi deny that when the add-ons such as India-specific adaptations, weaponry, etc. are installed on the basic aircraft, the UPA price, which was mentioned in the 2007 L1 offer, would be at least 20% costlier than the more favourable price negotiated by the NDA?

(8)  Can Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party deny if the total contract cost, that is, basic aircraft plus add-ons, including weaponry, etc., Indian adaptations plus future supplies and maintenance are all added, the NDA terms become far more favourable than the 2007 L1 offer?

Role of private industries

(9)  Can Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress deny that the Government of India has no contract whatsoever with any private industry in relation with the Rafale aircraft supplies?  In fact, 36 of the Rafale aircraft with their Indian adaptations are going to be sent to India and there is no manufacturing of these 36 aircrafts in India.

(10)  Any Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) under the offset policy of the UPA can select any number of Indian partners, both from the private sector and the public sector, for offset supplies?  This has nothing to do with the Government of India and, therefore, any private industry having benefitted from the Government of India is a complete lie.  Can Shri Gandhi and his Party deny this?

On procedure

(11)  Are Shri Gandhi and his Party aware of the fact that there are two ways of acquiring a defence equipment, i.e., either by competitive bidding or by an Inter-Governmental Agreement?

(12) Can Mr. Gandhi and his Party deny that the UPA Government in 2007 itself had shortlisted the Rafale as technically- acceptable and L1 in price competition?

(13) Can Shri Gandhi and his Party deny that considering the urgency of the defence requirement, the Government of India and the French Government agreed to execute the supply of 36 Rafale aircrafts at terms better than the 2007 offer of the UPA?

(14)  Can it be denied that both the Price Negotiation Committee and the Contract Negotiation Committee negotiated for 14 months before concluding the deal?

(15) Can it be denied that before the deal was executed, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the transaction?

I am asking the above questions and I hope Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party would respond immediately.

(Writer is Union Finance Minister, GoI) 

AgustaWestland case: CBI focusing on the money trail of over 50 million euros

AgustaWestland case: CBI focusing on the money trail of over 50 million euros

AgustaWestland case: CBI focusing on the money trail of over 50 million euros

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has once again stepped up its probe in the AugustaWestland case and is now focusing on the money trail of over 50 million euros.

The probe is spread over 8 countries. A CBI team recently visited Italy and got some information from police authorities.

News agency ANI said that the probe agency is now awaiting complete compliance report of letters rogatory from Tunisia, British Virgin Islands, UK and Switzerland.

However, CBI has not received any response from Mauritius, UAE and Singapore in this regard, the news report said.

The CBI has named several suspects in the case, including former IAF chief, SP Tyagi and his two cousins.

-July 27, 2016, New Delhi

13 Navy vessels, 2 ships deployed to search IAF plane

Massive search continues for missing IAF plane on Day 4; 13 Navy vessels, 2 ships deployed

Massive search continues for missing IAF plane on Day 4; 13 Navy vessels, 2 ships deployed

Search for the missing IAF plane continued for the fourth day on Monday with 13 naval vessels and two coast guard ships pressed into service.

In addition, the IAF conducted some 12 air sorties on Monday to locate the missing plane, Inspector General of Indian Coast Guard Rajan Bargotra said.

He said 13 naval vessels and two coast guard ships were also deployed.

The search area was expanded on Monday after the three days of search yielded no positive results.

Bargotra said, “Aircraft were launched by respective services to carry out a linear search.”

“We have not located any debris till now, search is continuing,” he added.

This is the fourth day of search operations conducted by the coast guard, IAF and the Indian Navy.

The Indian Air Force aircraft  had disappeared on Friday with 29 people on board. The government has launched “Operation Talash” to locate it.

-July 25, 2016, New Delhi/Chennai

IAF inducts first squadron of home-grown Tejas

IAF inducts first squadron of home-grown Tejas

In a major milestone in the military aviation in the country, the first squadron of home- grown Light Combat Aircraft Tejas was inducted into IAF with two fighter planes joining the force here.

State-run HAL handed over the first two Tejas aircraft to IAF, which makes up the first squadron named ‘Flying Daggers’, at a ceremony preceded by inter-faith prayers at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment.

Tejas

A Tejas aircraft flown by Commanding Officer Group Captain Madhav Rangachari performed a sortie during the induction ceremony, attended by Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, Southern Air Command and senior HAL executives.

The commissioning of the India-made fighter planes comes more than three decades after LCA went into development.

The aircraft was named “Tejas” (meaning radiance in Sanskrit) by Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister. The squadron will be based in Bengaluru for the first two years before it is moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu.

Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who on May 17 took his  maiden flight in Tejas, had given the thumbs up to the “desi” aircraft, terming it “good” for induction.

IAF, which plans to induct six aircraft this financial year and about eight in the next, has said Tejas will feature in its combat plan next year and would be deployed in forward bases also. CA will eventually replace the ageing fleet of MiG-21 planes.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier this month said here “next year I think two MiG-21 squadrons are being  decommissioned. This will go into initially replacing them.”

“LCAs are better than MiGs which are old and parts are difficult to get,” he had said. All squadrons of Tejas will be made up of 20 planes, including four in reserve.

As per the plan, 20 would be inducted under the “Initial Operational Clearance” and another 20 later with Beyond Visual Range Missile (BVR) and certain other features. IAF plans to induct over 80 aircraft with better  specifications known as Tejas 1A.

The upgraded version of Tejas, with Active Electrically Scanned Array Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare Suite, mid-air refuelling capacity and advanced BVRs, will cost between Rs 275 crore and Rs 300 crore.

The idea to have an indigenous fighter aircraft was conceptualised in the 1970s, but actual work started on the aircraft project only in the 1980s.

The first flight took place in January 2001 after the project often ran into rough weather and came in for criticism over delay.

-01 July 2016 | PTI | Bengaluru

ED summons Mitchel’s Indian contacts

VVIP choppers deal: ED summons Mitchel’s Indian contacts

ED has summoned some Indian contacts of British national Christian Mitchel, an alleged middleman, in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal.

VVIP choppers deal: ED summons Mitchel's Indian contacts

 

ED has summoned some Indian contacts of British national Christian Mitchel, an alleged middleman, in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP choppers deal.Officials said few people involved in creating an overseas firm with Mitchel have been called by the agency to record their statements under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) this week.

The agency, sources said, wants to understand the “financial relationship” of at least three people who had created an offshore entity with Mitchel, approximately around the same time when the 12 choppers deal was being finalized and was in final stages of execution.They said prima facie there are no allegations of wrong doing against the individuals, who live in the United Kingdom, but it is important for it to ascertain their role with Mitchel against whom an Interpol arrest warrant is pending.He is amongst the three alleged middle men being probed in the case by the ED and CBI both.

ED had registered a PMLA case in this regard in 2014 and named 21 people including former Indian Air Force Chief S P Tyagi in its money laundering FIR.It had also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gautam Khaitan and had also filed a charge sheet last year.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW101 VVIP choppers to IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

-May 25, 2016, New Delhi

India likely to select fighter plane under ‘Make in India’: Parrikar

India likely to select fighter plane under ‘Make in India’: Parrikar

India is likely to select by the year-end at least one fighter aircraft that will be manufactured by the private sector under the ‘Make in India’ process for supply to IAF, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said.
He said that there may be one or two more jet fighter plants, either operational or in the process of being set up, in India in the next three years or so.
Asked if this meant HAL will set up more plants, Parrikar said, “It is private sector which will be required to supply to the air force. We need fighters. We may encourage…There are proposals.”
Parrikar said yesterday through “proper process”, by year end “we might select few aircraft to Make in India. Which one? I don’t commit. But there will be at least one, may be two also.”
Boeing and Lockheed Martin of the US, Saab of Sweden, Dassault Aviation of France and Eurofighter have offered to set up manufacturing bases in India along with transfer of technology if their fighter aircraft was selected for Indian Air Force.
All the companies are also in talks with Indian private firms to select a local partner. However, they are awaiting a clear signal from the government before selecting their partners.
Parrikar also made it clear that ‘Make in India’ does not mean just assembly of equipment but manufacturing through transfer of technology.
The development comes as both India and France are in the last stage of concluding an Inter-Government Agreement on direct purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jet planes.
The government has also decided to equip IAF, which is facing a severe fighter shortage, with indigenously developed Tejas combat aircraft.
HAL is already in the process of increasing its capacity to manufacture 16 Tejas aircraft per year.
-17 February 2016 | PTI | New Delhi

Republic Day parade: India showcases military might, French troops march in a first

Republic Day parade: India showcases military might, French troops march in a first

India’s military prowess and achievements in different fields, state-of-the-art defence, diverse cultural and social traditions and the government’s emphasis on self-reliance dominated the showcase at New Delhi’s Rajpath on the country’s 67th Republic Day.

For the first time in the history of Republic Day parades, a 123-member French Army contingent marched on Rajpath and present a ceremonial salute to the President Pranab Mukherjee, as guest of honor Francois Hollande watched and clapped seated next to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Another first, after a gap of 26 years, was the march by an Army dog squad drawn from the Remount Veterinary Corps along with their handlers.

Sticking to the 66-year-old tradition, the colourful Border Security Force regiment consisting of 56 camels also marched down the Rajpath. For the first time, the parade also witnessed an ex-servicemen tableau where army veterans showcased their role in nation building.

Among the weapons on display were the army’s missile firing capability T-90 Bhishma tank, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP II (Sarath), Mobile Autonomous Launcher of the BrahMos Missile System, Akash weapon system, Smerch Launcher Vehicles and Integrated Communication Electronic Warfare System.

An Indian Air Force tableau, themed ‘Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations by IAF: In Service of the Nation and Beyond’ showcased models of C-17 Globemaster, C-130 Hercules and MI-17V5 aircraft, emphasising its use in the IAF’s recent rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Yemen and Nepal.

The Indian Navy’s tableau displayed flight deck operations on the new aircraft carrier Vikrant, under construction at the Kochi shipyard, and the indigenously constructed submarine Kalvari by Mazagaon Dock, Mumbai, having a Made in India tag on them.

There was a scintillating display of folk and classical dances and performances by school children from Delhi and other parts of India.

One of the highlights of the two-hour event at Rajpath was the stunts by daredevils belonging to the Army Signal Corps as they made various formations on motorbikes.

The parade ended with flypasts and stunts over Rajpath by Jaguars and other aircraft, though low visibility due to fog made it difficult for thousands of cheering speactators below to enjoy the display.

Delhi was turned into a virtual fortress as an unprecedented ground-to-air security cover with thousands of armed personnel kept a tight vigil for the Republic Day celebrations.

Commandos with light machine guns were deployed at 10 strategic locations and anti-aircraft guns remained positioned at two vantage points in the capital. The entire central Delhi region had nearly 50,000 security personnel drawn from Delhi Police and central security forces guarding every nook and corner.

The VVIP enclosure was put under a multi-layer security ring with Presidential Guards and officials of the Special Protection Group and National Security Guard manning the two inner-most orbits.
Snipers were put on 45 buildings overlooking Rajpath besides providing a similar cover along all the buildings along the parade route.

In view of intelligence inputs that terror groups might target important installations in the capital, central security agencies and the National Investigation Agency busted a module by arresting 14 militants allegedly linked to the Islamic State.

-TNN | Jan 26, 2016,

 

MoD Approves Induction of Women as Fighter Pilots

MoD Approves Induction of Women as Fighter Pilots 

The Ministry of Defence has approved the induction of women into the Fighter (Combat) stream of the IAF. This progressive step is in keeping with the aspirations of Indian women and is in line with contemporary trends in Armed Forces of developed nations. Since their induction into the transport and Helicopter streams of the IAF, their performance has been praiseworthy and on a par with their male counterparts. Inducting women into the fighter stream would provide them with an equal opportunity to prove their mettle in combat roles as well.

The first women pilots would be selected from the batch which is presently undergoing flying training at Air Force Academy. After successful completion of ab-initio training, they would be commissioned in the fighter stream in June 2016.

Thereafter, they would undergo advanced training for one year and would enter a fighter cockpit by June 2017.

Presently, the Indian Army is inducting women into the Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation (Air Traffic Control), Army Air Defence, Electronics & Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps, Intelligence Corps, Army Education Corps and Judge Advocate Generals Branches/Cadres. The Indian Navy is inducting women in the Judge Advocate Generals, Logistics, Observer, Air Traffic Controller, Naval Constructor and Education branches/cadres. The IAF is presently inducting women in the Transport and Helicopter stream of the flying branch, Navigation, Aeronautical Engineering, Administration, Logistics, Accounts, Education and Meteorology branches. With this decision to open up induction of women in the fighter stream, women have become eligible for induction in all branches and streams of the IAF.

The Ministry of Defence has also taken up a comprehensive review pertaining to induction of women in Armed Forces, both in short service commission and permanent commission (SSC & PC) and once finalised more and more branches would be opened up for induction of women to give them the space which they deserve in the Armed Forces of the country.

-Ministry of Defence,  24-October, 2015