Amid a massive political war between the Centre and the Opposition over
the Rafale fighter jet deal, three Rafale aircraft touched down in
Bengaluru today for the biennial five-day Aero Show that begins next
week. While two of these French-made fighters will be used for flying
exercises, the third one will just be used for static display, according
The advanced fourth generation fighters landed at the
Yelahanka Air Force Station on the outskirts of Bengaluru, where the
12th edition of the Aero India show will take place from February 20-24.
these three Rafale jets are not the ones that have been made for India
by French aerospace major Dassault. “Rafale for India will not be ready
by February. We expect Dassault to fly some other Rafale at the Aero
India show here on February 20-24, 2019,” Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air
Marshal R.K. Singh Bhadauria had said in October last year.
is set to deliver four Rafale fighters to India in September; they will
be tested before being flown. These jets will partly replace the ageing
Russian-built MiG-21 fighters that are being phased out. The
twin-engine, multi-role fighter can carry out attacks both air-to-air
Rafale jets arrived in India on a day when the national auditor, the
Comptroller and Auditor General or CAG, said in its report that the
Rafale deal negotiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is
2.8 per cent cheaper than the one negotiated by the previous
Congress-led UPA government.
The report, submitted in the Rajya
Sabha today, does not include the contentious point of pricing, since
the Defence Ministry maintains that these details cannot be revealed.
The report has been dismissed by the opposition as biased.
Congress alleges that the government went for an overpriced deal for
Rafale jets to benefit Anil Ambani, whose Reliance Defence is one of the
offset partners for Rafale maker Dassault. Both Dassault and Anil
Ambani have denied the Congress allegations.
The Supreme Court in
December refused to investigate the deal worth an alleged 8.7 billion
dollars and rejected petitions that alleged corruption, including the
choice of Anil Ambani’s firm as domestic partner. But the opposition
says the government concealed vital information.