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Rafale deal clean, people misinterpreted numbers to say India paid too much: Dassault CEO

Dassault CEO Eric Trappier, who is accompanying French president Emmanuel Macron on his India visit, says the Rafale deal conforms to both Indian and French laws.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2018 07:15 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rafale,Rafale deal,India France deal
Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier speaks to journalists in Brussels on February 13. (AFP Photo)

The Rafale jet contract is a “very clean deal” conforming to “Indian and French laws” and those raising questions about it have misinterpreted numbers to conclude that India paid too much for the warplanes, Eric Trappier, the CEO of Dassault Aviation SA, which builds the Rafale, said in an interview on Saturday.

“As far as I am concerned… as a witness and as someone in charge of the performance of the contract…I may tell you very clearly, it is a very clean deal. How can I not do a clean deal with all the laws in France and India?” said Trappier, who is accompanying French President Emmanuel Macron on his India visit.

His comments came a day after the Congress alleged that the Narendra Modi government caused a loss of Rs 12,632 crore to the exchequer by inking the September 2016 deal for 36 Rafale planes. Quoting figures from Dassault’s annual report for 2017, the opposition party alleged that India had paid Rs 351 crore more for each jet than other Rafale customers such as Egypt and Qatar.

“The figures in the report were given by me one-and-a-half years ago. The numbers include not only the Rafale deal but also covers Mirage-2000 support. I know that because the figures are coming from me,” said Trappier.

He said before the deals were inked, the French government checked that per unit price of the Rafale was the same for all three customers: India, Egypt and Qatar. He said the final cost package would vary depending on the “scope of each deal”.

“Price varies depending on the package, support, weapons, country-specific requirements, number of bases…There are a huge number of parameters in the contract. There can be no comparison. It’s like apples and oranges. The scope of each deal is different,” he said. For instance, post-sales support, he said, was a part of the deal with India but not for deals with some other countries.

In the absence of such details, he seemed to suggest, it made no sense to criticise the deal.

“How can you find a way to be able to say one deal is more expensive than the other? Is it very professional to do so?”

Trappier said he was unaffected by the controversy the Rafale deal has stirred in India.

“What is important for me is what the IAF (Indian Air Force) thinks, what the Indian defence ministry thinks and we have no problem with them. So that’s most important for me…the noise is something else,” he said. Trappier said the deal for the 36 jets is on track and that he is quite enthusiastic about the deliveries beginning in September 2019.

On demands in India to reveal the per unit fighter cost, he said the data is known to the two governments and that it is up to them. “But it looks like the questions are not between the French and Indians, but only among Indians.”

He said the Rafale was the right aircraft for India, had been selected through a rigourous process and then finally bought through another process. “And we are very honoured to be able to deliver such a high performance aircraft to the IAF,” he said.

Asked about the comparisons being made in India between the Rafale deal that was being negotiated by the United Progressive Alliance government and the contract finally signed by the National Democratic Alliance regime, Trappier said, “I must say something. We are not comparing two equal deals. One was for 126 jets with 18 coming off the shelf and then step-by-step licenced production. The other deal is for 36 fighters off the shelf. So we cannot compare.”

First Published: Mar 11, 2018 07:14 IST