Hours after French media made startling revelations on the Rafale jet purchase deal, Dassault Aviation issued a clarification stating that it freely chose to make a partnership with India's Reliance Group. Earlier on Wednesday, French website "Mediapart' reported that Dassault Aviation agreed to enter into a joint venture with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as it was presented as a 'trade-off' if the defence major were to bag the 36 Rafale jet deal.
In its defence, Dassault Aviation clarified that it freely chose to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. "This joint-venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), was created February 10, 2017. Other partnerships have been signed with other companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL,... Other negotiations are ongoing with a hundred-odd other potential partners", it added.
"Within framework of Sept'16 Inter-Govt Agreement b/w France and India, Dassault Aviation sold 36 Rafale aircraft to India. In compliance with Indian regulations (Defence Procurement Procedure), Dassault Aviation committed to offsets worth 50% of value of purchase", the French aerospace major stated.
Earlier on September, post former French President's claims that Dassault Aviation was given no choice but to partner Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group for the offset clause in the deal, the defence major in its clarification had stated that ts partnership with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group for making parts of Falcon and Rafale aircraft its own choice. Dassault Aviation clarified that the 2016 contract for 36 Rafale aircraft sale to India was a government to government deal, which provided for a separate contract in which Dassault Aviation committed for making compensation investments (offsets) in India worth half the value of the purchase.
The latest claims come amid Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's three-day visit to France during which both sides are expected to deliberate on further boosting their already close defence and security ties.
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.
Rafale deal: Nirmala Sitharaman dismisses Congress' charges, says govt did not ignore HAL in defence agreement
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.
However, the government has vehemently rejected the allegations and asserted that it did not have any role in the selection of Reliance Defence.