Clearing the air over the controversy involving Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier on Saturday said that it was the best to deliver what they wanted in the deal by India to procure Rafale fighter jets and the unit price of 36 aircrafts to be delivered in a fly-way condition was the same as that of 18 that were part of the deal negotiated by the UPA government.
In an interview, Trappier said that Dassault Aviation had chosen Reliance as a partner.
Offset with Reliance only 10% of 'obligation', in talks with 100 other firms: Dassault CEO on Rafale deal
"The choice of Reliance is mine. I had the choice of Reliance in 2011. We signed first MoU in 2012. We continue to have discussion with Reliance. We, when the contract was announced for 36 aircraft, continued to have agreement with them as Dassault policy is to set up facilities in India and I want to produce from scratch, a Falcon 2000 in India including the assembly line of the Falcon 2000, including the flight testing production flight in India," he said.
"For that I need an air-field. How can I do an assembly line without an air-field? Bengaluru is very busy, it's a very busy city, it's a big city, but there are no land available. The same story in Mumbai, same story in New Delhi. I found that Nagpur is in the middle of India, where land is available and we can build new hangars, facilities and the manufacturing of Falcon parts, of Rafale parts including when the assembly line would be a very good idea for my company," he added.
Trappier said it was important to set up facilities as a French company in India and to produce the parts it required.
"So for us it looked like Reliance could help us to get what we wanted," he said.
Referring to offsets for Rafale jet, he said not only Reliance but included many other companies.
"Roughly we need to perform 50 per cent of the value of the contract as per terms of offset. Out of 50 per cent of our obligation today, 40 per cent is already identified in order to create the value to answer to this (DPP) requirement.
Among this, for 40 percent, we had already signed 30 agreements with companies, not joint ventures. There is only one joint venture. We have 30 other companies, which we have already signed today and we are in discussion with 70 others and it's all around India. It's not in Nagpur, it's in Mumbai, Bengaluru and New Delhi. We are also starting discussions in order to have technology and development," he said.
Referring to the Dassault Relaince Aerospace Limited (DRAL) joint venture, he said its capital today is roughly Rs 70 crore and many go up to Rs 850 crore.
Asked about the Congress allegation that the Rafale jets were being procured by Modi government at almost three times the cost of that negotiated by the UPA government, Trappier said it's a government-to-government deal and it is up to the two governments to disclose information.
"We had 126 aircraft in the MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft), and among them, 18 were supposed to be in a flyway condition. The price of the 18 per aircraft is same as for the 36, when we delivered the first proposal. So, there is no increase in the price.
"During 2015-2016, we had tough negotiations with the Ministry of Defence as usual. We were able to decrease 9 percent on the total package. Same price for 36 as before for the 18, same unit price and then rebate of 9 per cent on the total package of the contract. So, those who said that we have multiplied by 3 the price of the aircraft, I cannot understand," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after talks with the then French President Francois Hollande on April 10, 2015 in Paris. The final deal was sealed on September 23, 2016.
The Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the deal, saying the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA government when it was negotiating the deal.