Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has conveyed to the French government and defence equipment manufacturer Dassault that conditions on the price and RFP (request for proposal) of the purchase of Rafale multi-medium role combat aircraft were non-negotiable.
In riposte to a question on the long-delayed deal with the French firm for 126 fighter jets -- often called the mother of all deals -- Parrikar on Tuesday said, ”We have conveyed our stand to them (France) very clearly. Simultaneously, they have to tell us whether they can do it or not. We can’t keep on waiting.”
Parrikar’s French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian had visited India last month to attend a meeting with delegates from both sides, including top executives from Dassault, in a last ditch effort to save the deal. However, little progress has been made so far. Earlier, Parrikar had said if the on-going deadlock continued, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would strengthen the existing Su-30Mki fleet to meet the IAF’s requirements.
Citing cost escalation, Dassault has refused to take ‘full responsibility’ of the 108 fighters to be manufactured in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as per the original tender.
Sources within the MoD privy to the development said the cost of the project had shot up to over $20 billion from the initial $ 12 billion, when the tender was floated in 2007.
The cost negotiation committee set up to finalise the modalities of the deal in February, 2012, has not reached a consensus so far.