NDA’s Rafale deal ‘much better’ than UPA’s, say MoD officials

A reason why both deals cannot be compared is because of different deliverables, including weapons package

NEW DELHI: Claiming that the Indo-France Rafale deal for 36 jets signed by the Narendra Modi government is "much better" than the one initiated by the erstwhile Manmohan Singh regime, top Ministry of Defence officials who didn't want to be identified said per aircraft cost, as per the pact, now is 91 million euros. This is close to 10 million euros cheaper than what would have been per aircraft cost of the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal under the UPA dispensation, which was scrapped.

The Congress has been raising allegations that the per aircraft cost during the UPA regime was much lower than what was negotiated by the Modi government. It also said prior permission of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) was not taken. The cost of the 36 aircrafts, which are to be bought in flyaway condition is 7889.54 million euros or 7.9 billion euros, according to sources. Under the MMRCA deal, only 18 aircrafts were to be procured in flyaway condition while the remaining 108 were to be licensemanufactured in India.

A reason why the two deals should not be compared is due to the different figures of jets being procured in flyaway condition. However, due to the allegations if one has to compare, then the 18 jets of the MMRCA deal have to be multiplied by two, to be put at 36. So, the "notional cost" of 36 jets of the previous project is 9502.30 million euros or 9.5 billion euros, said sources.

Another reason why both deals cannot be compared is because of different deliverables, including weapons package. The Rafales being procured under the current deal has a better weapons suite such as the game-changer METEOR missiles, which have a range of over 150 km. It also has 13 India specific enhancements.

"However, if you are comparing the two deals on common parameters, just as a basic aircraft, without the weapons and other deliverables, then per aircraft cost of the existing deal is 91 million euros. The per aircraft cost of the previous deal would have come to 99 million euros," explained sources. About 2.2 billion euros has also been saved with the current deal, according to the sources.

All necessary defence procurement procedures, such as one-and-a-half years of negotiations were conducted for the deal. Industry sources explained that a deal comprises a package of the basic aircraft, country specific customisation, other equipment such as spares and training, infrastructure and weapons. "A per aircraft cost comparison has to be done only on the basis of the basic aircraft. What is probably being done now is that total deal cost is being divided by the total number of jets to get the per aircraft cost, which is inaccurate," explained sources.