The Narendra Modi government bought Rafale fighter planes at a cheaper rate, the CAG report confirmed on Wednesday. The CAG report on Capital Acquisitions in Indian Air Force, which was tabled in Rajya Sabha, does not have any mention about the exact price of each fighter jet. The audit noted that the IAF did not define the ASQRs (Air Staff Qualitative Requirements) properly. As a result, none of the vendors could fully meet the ASQRs. ASQRs were changed repeatedly during the procurement process. It created difficulties during technical and price evaluation and affected integrity of competitive tendering; one of the main reasons for delay in acquisition process. Objectivity, equity and consistency of technical evaluation process wasn't evident in Technical Evaluation Report.
A Defence Ministry team in March 2015 recommended the scrapping of the 126 Rafale deal saying that Dassault Aviation was not the lowest bidder and EADS (European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company) was not fully compliant with the tender requirements, the CAG report said.
Finding issues in the UPA era 126 aircraft deal, CAG says Defence Ministry team had said in 2015 that the proposal of Dassault Aviation Rafale should have been rejected in technical evaluation stage itself as it was non-compliant with RFP requirements.
Meanwhile, amid ongoing controversy over Rafale fighter plane deal, the Indian Air Force has said that the combat jet programme is ‘on schedule’ and that the first aircraft will be delivered in September later this year. “The delivery will take place in France and the aircraft would be brought back to India,” an air force official was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. Earlier report suggest that the Indian Air Force plans to deploy Rafale fighter jets at strategic air bases near Pakistan and China.
As part of change in the current structure, the Indian Air Force will deploy Rafale squadrons at Haryana’s Ambala and West Bengal’s Hashimpura bases respectively. At present, the number 3 ‘Cobra’ squadron of MiG-21 Bison fighter jets has been deployed in Ambala since 1997. But with Rafale taking over the fighter base in next two years, the ‘Cobra’ squadron will be shifted to Rajasthan’s Nal air base. The air force has almost completed the shifting process soon Ambala skies won’t see the famous MiG-21 fighter jets. The air force has also confirmed the development.