Amid uproar over Rafale fighter jets deal by the Opposition led by the Congress, three jets landed in Bengaluru’s Yelahanka Air Force Station to participate in Air India Show to be held from February 20 to 24. French aerospace major Dassault Aviation is set to deliver 36 Rafale jets multi-role medium combat aircraft to the IAF in fly-away condition from September 2019 onwards. The 12th edition of the 5-day biennial air show will be held at IAF's Yelahanka base on the city's northern outskirts as before.
The state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will play a major role in organising the air show, instead of the Defence Exhibition Organisation which has been hosting the event over years, he added. The advanced fourth generation fighter Rafale will partly replace the ageing Russian-built MiG-21 jets the IAF is phasing out due to their obsolescence.
On Wednesday, the much-awaited CAG report said the Rafale deal signed by the Modi government to procure 36 fighter jets from France's Dassault got 2.86 per cent cheaper price than what was negotiated during the previous UPA regime in 2007.
Without disclosing pricing details in absolute terms, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) also said the deal was 6.54 per cent expensive in terms of engineering support package and performance-based logistics for the Indian Air Force, while the training costs has got 2.68 per cent expensive than the 2007 offer. The CAG also flagged the drawbacks of settling for a 'Letter of Comfort' rather than a sovereign guarantee by the French government and said Dassault benefitted due to the absence of such guarantees.
The report, however, was silent on the issue of offset partners, which has been a key point on which the Congress has been attacking Narendra Modi-led government and has been alleging corruption in Anil Ambani's Reliance Group getting one of the offset contracts.
In the 2007 offer of 126 fighter jets, Dassault Aviation was to provide basic training to 26 pilots and 76 technicians at a certain cost. In 2015 deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets, the IAF increased the scope of training to 27 pilots, 146 technicians and two engineers.
The Modi government has been facing a torrent of attacks by Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi over the fighter jet deal. Gandhi on Monday had dubbed the CAG report on the Rafale deal as "Chowkidar Auditor General" report.
"That CAG report is a worthless report. I would term it as a 'Chowkidar Auditor General Report'. It is Narendra Modi's report, written for the chowkidar, on behalf of the chowkidar, for the chowkidar, by the chowkidar," he had said on Monday.
Following the report becoming public on Wednesday, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hit out at the main opposition party.
"It cannot be that the Supreme Court is wrong, the CAG is wrong and only the dynast is right. Satyameva Jayate" - the truth shall prevail. The CAG Report on Rafale reaffirms the dictum," Jaitley tweeted.
(With PTI inputs)