‘Fast-track Rafale procurement’

‘Fast-track Rafale procurement’

Air Marshal (Rtd) B K Murali

Stressing on the need to strengthen the armed forces by acquiring the most advanced military equipment, several retired air marshals and HAL engineers on Saturday called for the speedy procurement and production of Rafale fighter jets.

Sharing their viewpoints during a seminar, ‘Rafale and National Security’, organised by Citizens for Democracy, a city-based collective, the retired officers from the Indian Air Force (IAF) and retired engineers from HAL argued for the quick acquisition of Rafale jets, a matter that has triggered a bitter political slugfest.

Drawing attention to the lurking threat from the Eastern frontier, Air Marshal (Rtd) B K Murali said, “India is facing a considerable threat from the East. In fact, one country has always scuttled our prospects of securing a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. We need to be prepared always. The Rafale jet is perhaps the most modern fighter, and has a low maintenance record. Besides, Dassault — the manufacturer, has offered a guarantee on its performance. The government must execute the acquisition at the earliest.”

Clarifying that the acquisition of Rafale jets has been given a clean chit by the apex Court, he said, “The deal was sealed at a much lower rate than what was executed back in 2012. The deal provides no space for middlemen, and the French government itself has offered guarantee for Dassault. The deal was carried out on acceptable terms between both the countries and all the trade-related transactions have been validated by the Supreme Court.”

 Ashok Saxena, Managing Director (Rtd), Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) said, “Whosoever establishes control over the airspace in the region, gets recognition at the global level. When it comes to national security, we are facing a dearth of fighter jets. If we were to face Chinese aggression in the future, Rafale jets are irreplaceable. Currently, going by the terms of the deal, the first Rafale jet will land on Indian soil by this year and by 2022 as many as 36 jets will be delivered.”

Saxena also argued that efforts must be taken to produce these jets in India by technology transfer. “HAL has the capacity to manufacture about 100 Rafale jets a year and only HAL has to manufacture these jets. The allegation that the Centre has paid Reliance Rs 30,000 crore during the deal is completely baseless. It is inappropriate to give the deal a political colour,” Saxena said.    

Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Rtd) AVM S S Lahiri said, “If there were any lapses during the acquisition process, the Supreme Court would have pointed that out. Somebody who came in for five years and those who do not know anything about fighter jets are now talking about these planes. They have no right to debate on it.”