The IAF chief said that Dassault was to select its offset partners. The government and the IAF had no role to play

NEW DELHI: Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Wednesday said that the procurement of Rafale fighter jets and S-400 air defence missile system will be a booster dose for the Indian Air Force where the number of depleting aircraft squadrons has been a major concern. 

"Rafale is a good aircraft, it will be a game-changer when it comes to subcontinent," the IAF chief said while addressing mediapersons in Delhi.
On the controversy surrounding the choice of offset partners for the Rafale defence deal, the Air chief said: "It was Dassault that was to select an offset partner. The government and the IAF had no role to play."

"We have got a good package, got a lot of advantages in the Rafale deal," he said.

The opposition led by the Congress has been accusing the government of helping Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Ltd from the Rafale deal. The government has dismissed all these allegations as false. The Air chief further added that both — the Rafale fighter jet from France and the S-400 missile defence system from Russia — will prove to be a booster dose for the depleting arsenal of the Air Force.

"The option before us was to keep waiting, or issue a fresh RFP and waste more years, or go in for an emergency purchase. The government took a bold decision," Dhanoa said, adding that governments in the past have also bought two squadrons of fighter jets to meet the emergency requirements of the IAF.

He reiterated that the government and the IAF had no role in Dassault selecting Reliance as one of its offset execution partners. On HAL, he said the company has delivered multiple platforms after long delays.

"It was Dassault that was to select an offset partner and the government, IAF had no role to play," the IAF chief was quoted as saying.

The Congress has been accusing the government of favouring Anil Ambani’s Reliance and ignoring HAL’s capabilities. When the government said that the HAL had capacity and capability limitations, the Congress said that the company has been producing fighter and transport aircraft for many decades.

Responding to this, Dhanoa said, “There has been a delay in the delivery schedule in contracts already executed to HAL. There is a 3-year delay in delivery of Sukhoi-Su30MKI, a 6-year delay in SEPECAT Jaguar, a 5-year delay in TEJAS fighter, and two-year delay in delivery of Mirage-2000 Nuke capable fighter upgrade”.

The IAF Chief also took a jibe at the journalists asking questions about the Rafale controversy, saying “There is more to IAF than Rafale”.

"This was more of a Rafale press conference than one on the Indian Air Force's 86th anniversary,” Dhanoa said towards the end of the event.

Our Bureau