NEW DELHI: The defence ministry (MoD) is sticking to its stand that Dassault Aviation is yet to inform it of the Indian offset partner the French aviation major has chosen under the Rs 59,000 crore contract, inked in September 2016, to deliver 36 Rafale fighters to India between November 2019 and April 2022.

"As per the contract, the details of the Indian offset partners will be confirmed by Dassault Aviation, either at the time of seeking offset credits or one year prior to discharge of offset obligations. Under the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), the vendor or original equipment manufacturer is free to select its Indian offset partners. Dassault has so far not submitted any proposal for offsets discharge," said defence ministry sources on Friday.

But it's equally true that Dassault Aviation chairman Eric Trappier and Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani had in October 2016 announced the creation of a joint venture in India, which would be "a key player" in the execution of offset obligations amounting to Rs 30,000 crore.

Then, on October 27, 2017, the foundation stone of the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd manufacturing facility was laid at Mihan in Nagpur in a function attended by visiting French defence minister Florence Parly and Union minister Nitin Gadkari. "Under the JV, this facility will manufacture several components of the offset obligations connected to the purchase of the 36 Rafale fighters," it was announced.

The DPP makes it mandatory for any foreign armament firm bagging a major deal to plough at least 30% of the contract value back into India as offsets. In the Rafale contract, the quantum of offsets is pegged at 50%, which includes investments in terms of transfer of technology for manufacturer or maintenance of "eligible products and services" under the DPP.

Under the original project, which was negotiated by UPA but was not finalised, the first 18 Rafales were to come in "a flyaway condition" from France, while the remaining 108 jets were to be manufactured under licence by defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics here. But all the 36 jets in the September 2016 deal, inked by NDA, will be directly delivered in a flyaway condition, without any production in India.