The Congress has been tailing the Defence Minister in a bid to make the price details of the Rafale deal public. 
The Congress has been tailing the Defence Minister in a bid to make the price details of the Rafale deal public. (Image: The Quint/Arnica Kala)
  • 1. The 'Not So' Secret Clause
  • 2. Govt’s Flip Flop on the Secrecy Clause
  • 3. So, How Much Really Does Each Rafale Cost?
  • 4. UPA vs NDA, Who Got the Better Deal?
  • 5. Why Then, Is the Govt Being Secretive?
Why the Cost of the Rafale Deal is Modi Govt’s Worst-Kept Secret

(This explainer on the Rafale deal has been republished from The Quint’s archives in the wake of former French president Francois Hollande claiming that the Modi government picked Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the local partner, contrary to their claim that neither French nor Indian government was involved in the commercial tie-up.)

Kitna deti hai? (What’s the mileage?) – This is the ultimate question for any Indian in the market for a transport vehicle. So, why should it be any different when the Indian government goes shopping for fighter jets?

Which government got us the cheaper deal to fulfil the Indian Air Force’s desperate need for medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), the Congress-led UPA or the BJP-led NDA? The vendor, France’s Dassault Aviation was initially approached for 126 Rafale fighter jets, but in the 15 years since the demand was first raised by the Indian Air Force and four general elections later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in September 2016, made the big ticket announcement for the immediate purchase of 36 jets from the French jets.

But, at what cost? – the answer remains the worst kept ‘official’ secret by the Modi government.

  • 1. The 'Not So' Secret Clause

    On 23 September 2016, India and France signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement on the supply of 36 Rafale aircraft, initial consignment of weapons, long-term maintenance support through performance-based logistics, simulators with annual maintenance and associated equipment.

    Media reports at the time stated that India had agreed to pay 7.87 billion Euro or Rs 58,000 crore for the jets, which would be delivered between September 2019 and April 2022.

    Five months later, on 5 February 2017, the Indian Air Force rejected an RTI query seeking copies of the signed agreement and the price of the jets.

    “The information sought is confidential in nature and public revelation of the same may lead to its subsequent availability to our adversaries. Further, the information sought is also held in fiduciary capacity ad no larger public interest is served by disclosure of such information. Hence, the same is denied,” the IAF replied.


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