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India’s tryst with Rafale: Modi’s 'New India' triumphs

“Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody’s looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood," said Charles Swindoll...If there is one man, one leader, one statesman, who deserves more credit than any peer of his, it is India's fearless Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, whose tremendous courage of conviction in the face of repeatedly baseless allegations by a defunct opposition, stood out.

A lesser leader would have wilted under the pressure but not the formidable Modi. As the first batch of the world's most advanced, five Rafale fighter jets covered a distance of almost 7000 km, to travel from France, arriving in India on July 29, 2020, to be inducted into the Indian Air Force fleet, at the Ambala airbase in Haryana, as any proud Indian, one's thoughts reflected on how, this historic event was made possible, thanks to Prime Minister Modi's unwavering commitment. The Number 17 Golden Arrows squadron of the Indian Air Force was resurrected in preparation for the induction of five Rafale jets into the IAF. The Golden Arrows were raised in 1951 and have been involved in a number of significant operations through their history, including the Kargil War.

The Dassault Rafale (literally meaning "gust of wind", and "burst of fire" in a more military sense) is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. The Rafale is referred to as an "omnirole" aircraft by Dassault. The Supreme Court's clean chit to the Rafale deal last year, was a major win for the Modi government, which has made transparency in defence contracts, non-negotiable. Modi's impeccable integrity has no parallels in contemporary India. This is a far cry from the erstwhile Congress regime's reportedly nefarious and dubious dealings in purchases of Agusta Westland helicopters and the Pilatus deal.Coming back to Rafale, former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief A.Y. Tipnis, who commandeered the IAF during India’s victory in the Kargil War, called the deal for 36 Rafale jets, a masterstroke. Tipnis stressed that Rafale is one of the best aircraft in the world, outranking almost all contemporary fighters in terms of operational capabilities, safety features, ease of operation and maintenance.


A lot of water has flown under the bridge in the last few years. As India makes history in terms of enhanced defence capabilities, no sane thinking Indian should ever forget how the Congress and its utterly inept scion, Rahul Gandhi, created an absolutely irrelevant and unwanted controversy, over the purchase and induction of the much needed Rafale, into the IAF.

In April 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the purchase of 36 Rafale jets after talks with the then French president Francois Hollande during his visit to the country. A deal was finalised when Hollande visited New Delhi to participate in the Republic Day celebrations in January 2016. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, when in power, was negotiating with Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale aircraft. Of these, 18 jets were to be supplied in a fly-away condition and 108 were to be manufactured in India along with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). However, the lethargic UPA could not seal the deal due to differences with Rafale-maker, Dassault.

Here are 12 questions and their answers, which nail Rahul Gandhi's vicious lies and unequivocally prove, how the Rafale deal is in India's best national interests, safety and security.

1) Why did the Modi government decide to buy Rafale?

Well, Rafale is undeniably, among the world's most advanced fighter jets.Some of the cutting-edge features of Rafale are: (a) Substantial increase in action radius, (b) More wing and fuselage stations to carry weapons, fuel tanks, (c) SPECTRA system which immensely enhances IAF’s ability to operate in heavily defended enemy territory, (d) Long-range radar-guided Meteor air-to-air missile for air dominance, (e) Ease of maintenance. Rafale, with an auto pilot, auto throttle and auto thrust, is not only streets ahead of Sukhoi Su-30MKI, which was IAF’s last major jet acquisition, but also a quantum leap over the Mirage 2000, also manufactured by Dassault.

2) How is the Rafale a much needed game changer?

Rafale is special because it is a twin-jet combat aircraft, a beautiful machine with a weight of 24, 500 kgs when it is fully loaded and armed, about 9, 900 kgs when it is empty, with a service ceiling of 50, 000 feet, a maximum flying speed of 1.8 Mach or 750 knots, an approach speed of less than 120 knots and of course, a wing span of 10.9 metres. It is a long range cruise missile, with a target range of 3700 kms that can go up to 4220 kms, with mid-air refuelling, whereas the F-16, for instance, is a short range strike missile with a range of 3700 km. The aircraft is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.

Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden. Besides the missile systems, the Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others. Two F-16s would be needed to combat with one Rafale. F-16 has a medium range missile whereas Rafale is a more powerful, long-range meteor missile. The Rafales secured by India are also more potent than the Russian Su-35 and China's, "Chengdu J-20".

3) Why did the Modi government buy 36 Rafale jets and not 126?

Many defence experts including Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Bipin Rawat, have opined that additional Rafales would be cheaper than those ordered in 2016, if purchases are staggered. This is primarily because a large component of the Euro 1, 700 million paid for "India Specific Enhancements" will come down, as the majority of the cost was in any case, for research and development, modification and certification. Hence, ordering only 36 fighter jets initially was certainly the right thing to do. Also, the cost of setting up base and training will come down, with staggered purchases. India had paid for setting up two bases for just 36 aircraft. These bases can easily accommodate many more aircraft, later.

Again, the decision to buy 36 Rafales was driven by an emergency-like situation, thanks to criminal negligence over the years, on the part of the Congress-led UPA establishment. The Indian Air Force (IAF) had only around 33 squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42. That number further went down to below 31. Negotiating a larger deal involving more jets, transfer of technology and production of the aircraft in India, would have taken a longer time. When Modi stormed into power with a massive mandate in 2014, he faced an unenviable task--the negotiations with Dassault for the procurement of Rafale had reached a stalemate and virtually collapsed, due to the incompetent, erstwhile, Congress-led regime. There were disagreements between Dassault and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), over the production of the aircraft in India, given HAL's inadequate infrastructure on one hand and on the other, Dassault's demanding timelines.

Hence, pressing for 36 fighter jets to tide over immediate concerns, was absolutely the right thing to do.HAL required 2.7 times higher man-hours compared to the French side for the manufacture of Rafale aircraft in India, was reluctant to give guarantees for big ticket items and hence the potential partnership between HAL and Dassault, never fructified, during the Congress regime. To blame Modi or the BJP, only because the Modi government sealed a great deal, keeping India's defence preparedness in mind, which the Congress dispensation had miserably failed to do, is, therefore, unacceptable.

4) Was HAL sidelined?

The answer is a categorical, No. Former Air Chief Marshal, BS Dhanoa, while replying to questions on HAL being left out of the deal, said, HAL was a licensed manufacturer and does not do many offsets. Citing data, he said the total offsets under various deals were about $11.48 billion — of which a major share was of the IAF, which was about $9 billion. Of this, HAL had a share of $400 million. He also said that it was for the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to choose its offset partners and the government and the IAF had nothing to do with it.

Also, the government decided to buy the fighters off the shelf, because manufacturing small number of fighters would not have been economical. While HAL is not the strategic offset partner, it remains one of Dassault’s many partners for execution of the offset clause, along with other private and state-owned firms. So despite initial reservations, it is business as usual and there is no bad blood between HAL and Dassault.

5) Is the Rafale deal exorbitant?

The Rafale deal negotiated by the Modi government is very competitively priced and not exorbitant at all. Congress alleged that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore, as against Rs 526 crore finalised by UPA government when it was negotiating a deal for procurement of 126 Rafale jets. However, as per documents, the per unit cost of a Rafale jet in the deal negotiated by the Modi government, after taking into account the cost of weapons, maintenance, simulators, repair support and technical assistance, works out to about Rs 1,646 crore. The per unit cost in the deal that the UPA was negotiating would have worked out to Rs 1,705 crore, if all the aforesaid additional features had been added. On a like to like basis, the Modi government has therefore saved Rs 59 crore per aircraft, compared to what the Congress was intending to do. Modi government, in fact, managed to save money despite spending over Rs 9, 855 more, on the India Specific Enhancements requested, by the Air Force.

Importantly, the deal negotiated by the Congress-led UPA was simply a flaky deal in the air with umpteen loose ends and, more in the nature of a "pure vanilla" aircraft, whereas the deal finally consummated by the Modi government, is for Rafales that are a complete package--a fully armed and weaponised collaborative aircraft system, equipped to take on any "two front" threat.

Again, the document, placed by the BJP led NDA government before the apex court said, "It is reiterated that the procurement process as laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2013 was followed in procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft".

Clearly, a desperate Congress, electorally vanquished, had to eat humble pie, when the Supreme Court rubbished false allegations on pricing, by Rahul Gandhi. On Rahul Gandhi''s baseless charge that Rafale prices were escalated during NDA rule compared to UPA rule, Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault, said, his company had in fact, made a rebate of about 9%, compared to the original pricing.

Also, Qatar bought its Rafales at $292 million per unit, Egypt bought the same fighter for $246 million per unit and India paid $243 million. Therefore, the cost for India was pretty competitive and accusations of the Modi government paying a steep price, are simply a figment of the imagination of mischievous minds.

Moreover, India has ensured that the aircraft it gets from France, include not only maintenance support and weapons training, but also India-specific enhancements to the fighters. These modifications, which the IAF demanded, added to the cost of the fighter. But despite these additional features, which the Rafales sold to India have, unlike those sold to Qatar and Egypt, these countries have paid a higher price than India, on a like to like basis. The deal also has a clause for 50% offset. This means, 50% of what Dassault earns (50% of the approximately Rs 59,000 crore) from the deal, will be invested back in India, giving a boost to local defence manufacturing. A lazy and clueless Rahul Gandhi and the Congress always quoted the price of the bare aircraft offered in late 2000s and refused to take into account inflation and the in-built cost escalation.

“Price of 36 was exactly the same when you compare with 18 flyaway. 36 is the double of 18, so as far as I was concerned, it should have been double the price. But because it was government to government, there was some negotiation, I had to decrease price by 9%. The price of Rafale in flyaway condition is less expensive in the 36 contracts than the 126 contracts,” said Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault, in response to Rahul Gandhi's dangerously frivolous accusations, which were later debunked by no less than India's apex court.

6) Did Modi government bypass any defence procurement related procedures while signing the deal?

The deal was signed in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) of 2013, put in place by the UPA government. According to the document, inter-governmental agreements do not require approval from the Defence Procurement Board, the Defence Acquisition Council and the Cabinet Committee on Security. The parts of the document which deal with inter-government agreements can be found in Articles 71 and 72.

7) What is the role of Reliance Aerospace Technologies Ltd (RATL), in the deal?

Reliance Aerospace did not replace HAL in the deal. RATL was selected by Dassault, which was free to choose its partners in India, for the execution of the offset clause, purely on the basis of commercial considerations, as it deemed fit. In most businesses, it is always the prerogative of the OEM to decide its offset partners and ditto was the case, here as well. So why the brouhaha? Also, state-run firms like Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and HAL, along with multiple other private firms, will also be part of Dassault’s offset execution, with DRDO getting the lion's share. This joint venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), was created on February 10, 2017. Other partnerships have been signed with other companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL.

Again, negotiations are ongoing with a hundred-odd other potential partners, as per statement by Dassault Aviation. Why did the Congress and Rahul Gandhi single out RATL, when the quantum of offset contract that will be handled by RATL would be barely 3% of the overall offset contracts worth Rs 30, 000-crore? A compromised opposition and large sections of left-leaning media wanted to create the impression that Reliance Aerospace is the biggest beneficiary of Dassault Aviation's offset contracts, whereas in reality, it is just one among the many players, in this case.

Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault also said, they "freely chose" Reliance Aerospace as he wanted to be in charge of the industrial process in the company, that manufactures parts of the French aircraft in India."I invested my money to have facilities here in India and I found partners, " he added.

He further said--"We have a long experience with the Congress party. Our first deal was with India in 1953 with Nehru and other Prime Ministers. We have been working with India. We are not working for any party. We are supplying strategic products like fighters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Government. That is what is most important”.

Trappier's clarifications completely took the sheen off, Rahul Gandhi's mala fide allegations and proved that for Dassault, joining hands with Anil Ambani's Reliance Aerospace was just another business decision and nothing more.

When pressed further for the reason behind Dassault’s choice of Reliance as an offset partner which had no experience in manufacturing fighter jets, Trappier clarified that the money being invested was not going to Reliance directly, but in a Joint Venture (JV) that included Dassault.

“We are not putting the money in Reliance. The money is going into the JV. I put my know-how free of charge on how to produce people. I have engineers and workers from Dassault who are taking the lead as far as the industrial part of this deal is concerned. At the same time, I have an Indian company like Reliance who is putting money into this JV as they want to develop their country. So the company is going to know how to produce aircraft", added Trappier.

To cut a long story short, before Anil Ambani came into the picture, the defence arm of Reliance owned by Mukesh Ambani had tied up with Dassault, in 2012, even much before the Modi government assumed office. However, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance did not pursue its defence business after 2014 and his brother Anil Ambani’s company Reliance Aerospace Technologies Ltd (RATL), tied up thereafter, with Dassault, for the execution of the offset clause, after the deal was signed.

8) What is the role of DRAL?

The Dassault-Reliance manufacturing facility, Dhirubhai Ambani Technology Park is located in the Mihan SEZ adjoining Nagpur International Airport. Under this joint venture, (51% owned by Reliance Infrastructure and 49% by Dassault Aviation) the facility will manufacture several components of the offset obligation connected to the purchase of 36 Rafales from France, signed between the two Governments in September 2016.

DRAL will manufacture components for the Legacy Falcon 2000 Series of Civil Jets manufactured by Dassault Aviation and thus will become part of its Global Supply Chain. These first steps are expected to achieve in the coming years, the possible setting up of final assembly of Rafale and Falcon Aircraft.

The joint venture also represents an unequalled Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by Dassault Aviation of over 100 Million Euros, the largest such Defence FDI in one location in India.

The DRAL facility will also train thousands of skilled workers in aviation assembly and integration and, lead to huge employment generation in Nagpur and its surrounding areas. It will also attract and house an organic ecosystem of over 200 MSMEs, to secure the component and avionics manufacturing needs of Rafale and Falcon Jets. Dassault Aviation Chairman, Mr Eric Trappier, declared that “this foundation stone laying demonstrates Dassault’s firm commitment to implementing Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India” program. It gives the 65 year-long strong association of Dassault-Aviation in India, a new momentum.

9) Is Anil Ambani's firm, the biggest beneficiary of offsets? Will the Rafale deal boost Make in India?

The answer to the 1st part is a vehement, No. The answer to the 2nd part is a definite, Yes. The offsets under the Rafale deal are divided between four firms: Dassault, which will build the air frame and integrate the aircraft with equipment from various other firms; Thales which will build the radars and avionics; Safran which will manufacture the engines and electronics; and MBDA, responsible for the weapons. As the deal was worth for about Rs 59,000 crore, offsets work out to be around 30, 000 crore (little over 50%).Of this, Dassault is responsible for the execution of offsets worth 6,500 crore, according to Air Marshal R. Nambiar, who was heading the negotiations with Dassault, for the Rafale fighters during the UPA era.

CEO of Dassault, in an interview with Agence France-Presse had clarified, soon after the Mediapart report added to the confusion, that the joint venture with Reliance will meet only about 10% of the offset obligation. Anil Ambani's Reliance Aerospace would also get only around 3% of the offsets worth Rs 30, 000 crore. Dassault Reliance joint venture will see an investment of about Rs 845 crore (€100 million). The venture will reportedly manufacture parts of the Dassault’s Falcon jet. A small amount would also be invested by Thales, which will set up an assembly line to manufacture avionics and radar.

State-owned firms like the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and HAL will also get investments. Reports say that engine and electronics maker Safran will invest in both the firms. While DRDO may get funding to revive the Kaveri jet engine programme, HAL is likely to enter into a joint venture with the company to manufacture helicopter engines. Another state-owned firm, Bharat Electronics Limited, is likely to get a part of the pie from Thales. These facts showcase how this deal not only boosts the "Make in India" initiative but also debunks the Congress scion Rahul Gandhi’s notorious claims that the Rafale deal was negotiated to benefit Anil Ambani’s firm.

10) Did the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG's), report, vindicate Modi government's stand?

Yes, the CAG report's findings, corroborated the Modi government's stand that, under the Inter government agreement (IGA), better terms had been achieved in terms of better pricing, better maintenance terms and better delivery schedule. The price of the 36 Rafale aircraft in the 2016 deal was 2.86% lower than the comparable price based on the UPA-negotiated deal, as per CAG. The comparable price as of 2015 (aligned price) was arrived at by applying a price escalation formula to the June 2007 bid. On the Rafale’s India specific enhancements (ISE), which cost more than €1.3 billion of the €7.87 billion deal, the CAG stated that there was a saving of a solid 17.08%. The CAG also noted that there was an improvement of one month in the delivery schedule in the 2016 contract (71 months instead of 72 months for the earlier bid). The CAG also observed that in respect of bank guarantees, though the French government had not agreed to an escrow account, it had contended that the “guarantees already provided by the government of France were far-reaching and unprecedented.”

11) Did the Congress legitimise corruption in defence deals?

There are umpteen reports in the public domain which suggest in no uncertain terms that, it is just not the Congress party but it is the very Congress culture that is most decadent. For decades the party made the defence sector, a den of brokers and middlemen. Notorious arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari, reportedly a close confidante of Robert Vadra, has been slapped with a chargesheet by India's Enforcement Directorate (ED).Another glaring example is the much-maligned middleman, Christian Michel, of the VVIP chopper scam infamy, who was fervently courted by and known to the "first family of the Congress". Michel is currently in Tihar jail, thanks to the Modi government, which had him extradited in 2018, from the UAE. Michel recently moved the Delhi High Court seeking bail on the grounds that he was susceptible to contracting COVID-19 in the jail. The ED and the CBI opposed his bail application--under "Modi Raaj", the corrupt have, clearly, nowhere to hide.

It is a shame that in 2004-14 when one of India's neighbours added 400 fighter planes to its fleet and another neighbour increased its fleet of fighter planes, many of which were 4th and 5th generation fighter planes, the Congress-led UPA, reportedly, stopped defence procurement for want of a "deal", as in cuts and commissions.

12) Did the Supreme Court give a clean chit to the Modi government?

Yes, in a historic judgement, the Supreme Court on November 14, 2019, gave the Narendra Modi government an absolutely clean chit on the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France and dismissed all the petitions seeking a direction to the CBI to register an FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal. A Bench headed by the then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the multi-billion dollar deal. On the issue of offset partner, the Bench, also consisting of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, said there was no evidence of commercial favouritism to any private entity. The Supreme Court also said there has been a necessity for fighter aircraft and the country cannot remain without jets.

The CJI, who read out the judgment for the three-judge Bench, said no reasons were found to interfere in the procurement process for the fighter jets. The apex court said it is not the job of the court to deal with the comparative details of the pricing. It said it does not find any substantial matter to interfere with the issue of procurement, pricing and offset partners. The apex court noted the need for induction of 4th and 5th generation of fighter aircraft like Rafale in the Indian Air Force. It added that no questions were raised regarding procurement, when the deal was finalised by the Modi government in 2016. Questions on the jet deal were raised only after former French president Francois Hollande came out with a statement. That, however, cannot be the basis of judicial review.

The court said it cannot compel the government to procure 126 or 36 fighter jets. That depends on the government's decision. The verdict was pronounced on a batch of pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the deal.Advocate M L Sharma was the first petitioner in the case. Later, another lawyer Vineet Dhanda had moved the apex court with the plea for a court-monitored probe into the deal. AAP leader Sanjay Singh had also filed a petition against the fighter jet deal. After the three petitions were filed, former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, driven by nothing but visceral hatred for Modi, along with rent-a cause activist and advocate, Prashant Bhushan, moved the apex court with a plea for a direction to the CBI, to register an FIR for alleged irregularities in the deal. The much discredited Prashant Bhushan is currently facing contempt of court proceedings against him, which should tell people a lot about his scant regard for the law and his hideous agendas.

Conclusion:

The moot point is, the Rafale matter was heard threadbare by the SC, which, after initially saying that it will not look at the cost, did so, with the government providing an itemised break-up in a sealed cover. The court upheld the deal on procedures too, with the Modi government detailing negotiations and pointing out that UPA failed to resolve differences between Rafale maker Dassault and HAL over man hours and costs for production of the fighter in India. Post the Supreme Court verdict, which unequivocally upheld the Modi government's decision to buy Rafale fighter jets, Rahul Gandhi had to tender an unconditional apology, the Congress party lost whatever little credibility it had and ended up looking like a bunch of petty charlatans. Clearly, the induction of Rafale fighter jets is an unprecedented milestone under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the rapidly growing India-France defence cooperation.

"Before 2014, corruption was institutionalised. Today, honesty is institutionalised", said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, last year, in the midst of a poll campaign. These words indeed, capture the essence of Modi's indefatigable commitment to transparency, with zero tolerance for corruption. "Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things, " said, Jesse Jackson. Indeed, despite tremendous public scrutiny, an agenda driven opposition with mala fide intent and, a media that had the knives out for him, Prime Minister Modi did not blink even once. Eventually, India won, Modi's courage won and Rafale, is all set to become a game changer in India's defence landscape.

The Rafale Timeline---

Dec 30, 2002: Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) adopted to streamline process

Aug 28, 2007: Ministry of Defence issues Request for Proposal for procurement of 126 MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) fighters

Sep 4, 2008: Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group incorporates Reliance Aerospace Technologies Ltd (RATL)

May 2011: Air Force short-lists Rafale and Eurofighter jets

Jan 30, 2012: Dassault Aviation’s Rafale aircraft comes up with the lowest bid

Mar 13, 2014: Work Share agreement signed between HAL and Dassault Aviation under which they were responsible for 70 per cent and 30 per cent of the work, respectively, for 108 aircraft

Aug 8, 2014: Former defence minister and the late Arun Jaitley tells Parliament that 18 direct ‘fly-away’ aircraft expected to be delivered in 3-4 years from signing of the contract; remaining 108 aircraft to be delivered in the next seven years

Apr 8, 2015: The then foreign secretary says detailed discussions underway between Dassault, MoD and HAL

Apr 10: New deal for acquisition of 36 direct ‘fly-away’ aircraft from France announced

Jan 26, 2016: India and France sign MoU for 36 Rafale aircraft

Sep 23: Inter-governmental agreement signed by the Modi government

Nov 18: Modi government states in Parliament that the cost of each Rafale aircraft to be approximately Rs 670 crore and that all aircraft will be delivered by April 2022

Dec 31, 2016: Dassault Aviation’s Annual Report reveals the actual price paid for the 36 aircraft at about Rs 60, 000 crore, more than double the government’s stated price in Parliament

Mar 13, 2018: PIL in Supreme Court (SC) seeks independent probe into Centre’s decision to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets from France and disclosure of the cost involved in the deal before Parliament

Sep 5, 2018: SC agrees to hear PIL seeking stay on Rafale fighter jet deal

Oct 8, 2018: SC agrees to hear on October 10 fresh PIL seeking direction to Centre to file in ‘sealed cover’ the details of the agreement for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets

Oct 10, 2018: SC asks Centre to provide details of decision making process in the Rafale fighter jet deal in a sealed cover

Oct 24, 2018: Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan moves SC, seeking registration of FIR into Rafale fighter jet deal

Oct 31, 2018: SC asks Centre to place it in sealed cover within 10 days the pricing details of 36 Rafale fighter jets

Nov 12, 2018: Centre places price details of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a sealed cover before SC; it also gives details of steps that led to finalisation of the Rafale deal

Nov 14, 2018: SC reserves judgement on pleas seeking court-monitored probe in Rafale deal

Dec 14, 2018: SC says there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process of the Modi government and dismisses all the petitions seeking direction to the CBI to register an FIR for alleged irregularities in the jet deal

Jan 2, 2019: Sinha, Shourie and Bhushan move SC seeking review of its December 14 judgement

Feb 26, 2019: SC agrees to hear review petitions in open court

Mar 13, 2019: Govt tells SC that documents filed by review petitioners are sensitive to national security

Apr 10, 2019: SC dismisses Centre’s objection claiming privilege over documents by petitioners to seek review

Apr 12, 2019: BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi moves SC against Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing his ‘chowkidar chor hai’ remarks on Rafale to the apex court

Apr 23, 2019: SC issues contempt notice to Rahul Gandhi for his remarks on Rafale verdict

May 8, 2019: Rahul Gandhi tenders unconditional apology in SC

May 10, 2019: SC reserves verdict on review pleas and contempt petition

Oct 8, 2019: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, formally received the first Rafale fighter jet built for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in FrancNov 14, 2019: SC dismisses review pleas against its verdict in the Rafale deal, rejects contention that there was need for registration of an FIR in connection with the procurement of 36 fighter jets from French firm Dassault Aviation

July 29, 2020: The state-of-the-art 4.5 Generation Rafale jets that can reach almost double the speed of sound, with a top speed of 1.8 Mach, land at the Ambala air base in Haryana. With its multi-role capabilities, including electronic warfare, air defence, ground support and in-depth strikes, the Rafale lends air superiority to the Indian Air Force, marking a turning point in India's defence capabilities, under the outstanding leadership of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, whose single minded determination, brought the much sought after Rafale, to India.

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