Fresh on the heels of the AugustaWestland VVIP Chopper deal/scam there are two other defence deal that is making the rounds. The similarity starts with the fact that even these two were signed during the Congress led UPA regime and BJP Govt is now probing the terms, authenticity and purpose of the deal. This probe has been ordered even as the Govt and the Opposition Congress party are engaged in a fierce battle over the AugustaWestland Probe. While the Narendra Modi led government accused Congress of corruption, the opposition has accused them of inaction in the alleged scam case.
The deals that I am referring to are the Pilatus and Rafale deals. Rafale won a deal in 2012 to supply 126 fighters for approximately Rs 42,000 crore at the time the deal was inked. The race to win this contract had six major players including Dassault Rafale (France), Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Russia’s MIG-35 (RAC MiG), American F-16 Falcon (Lockheed Martin), Swedish JAS-39 (Gripen) and Eurofighter Typhoon a consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian firms.
As per the terms, the 18 aircrafts were supposed to be delivered in a ‘fly away’ condition while the rest 108 had to be manufactured under the Transfer of Technology terms. Meanwhile Pilatus aircrafts were being used by the Indian Air Force as the basic trainer aircraft alongwith the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard.
We first heard of this deal in May 2015 when Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar said that the 126 Rafale fighter jets was not very viable economically. The tendering process undertaken by the UPA has also been under the scanner. The final contract for Rafale is still to be signed as the current costs have come up to a whopping Rs 65000 crore.
With all of these deals under the scanner, the concern now is of course national security. At a time when most developed nations of the world are gearing towards next gen armoury, India defence forces are struggling hard to get their basic security gear in place and replace armoury like the Bofors Guns which perhaps even museums might reject to make place for. The question is just how long do the politicians intend to compromise national security in the effort to cushion up their individual coffers? Why is it that despite frequent initiatives and measures to prevent corruption, these defence scams keep continuing? Why can we not have an independent body of experts to handle defence procurement and put a stop to letting crooks get away with these mis-demanours?