Parrikar volte-face opens door for more Rafale fighters, gives hope to Dassault - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 26 May 2015

Parrikar volte-face opens door for more Rafale fighters, gives hope to Dassault

More flip-flops from the defence minister in a TV interview on Tuesday

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 27th May 15

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, in a television interview to Indian Today on Tuesday evening, did not rule out buying more Rafale fighters, over and above the 36 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested the French government for during his visit to Paris in April.

On Thursday, Parrikar had declared that buying 90 less Rafale fighters than the 126 that was earlier planned, would save him money to buy more Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

“I have saved the cost of 90 Rafales”, Parrikar had said in New Delhi.

Yet, on Tuesday, the defence minister backed off from that statement, declining to clarify whether the Rafale purchase would be capped at 36 fighters.

“I’m not saying we will buy more Rafale; I’m not saying we will not buy more”, said Parrikar.

All that he confirmed is that French vendors would have to discharge offsets worth 50 per cent of the contract value; and that the final price for the Rafale would be cheaper than what Dassault had quoted for 18 ready-built fighters in its commercial bid in the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender.

“In the MMRCA tender, Dassault was to supply 18 Rafales in flyaway condition, and also build 108 fighters in Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Now Dassault is freed of the responsibility to ‘Make in India’. The price they now supply the Rafale at should not just be lower, but at least 30-35 per cent lower than the price which included ‘Make in India’”, says Pushpinder Singh, aerospace industry expert.

Parrikar says negotiations with France will start next week. On Monday, he had told Indian Express that the contract would be finalized in 2-3 months and the first Rafales would be supplied to the IAF within one year.

Parrikar also did a volte-face on the mountain strike corps (MSC), repudiating an earlier statement that it was being cut down by half to one-third.

On April 13, Parrikar had told Doordarshan: “I think we’ll have to work out the size of it properly. It cannot be the size initially approved. It has to be slightly trimmed down.” Soon after that, his ministry said that, instead of raising a 70,000-person corps for Rs 88,000 crore, the new corps would have half that number and cost Rs 38,000 crore over next eight years.

On Tuesday Parrikar said the MSC was being pared down only as a temporary measure because of a funding shortfall. When funds became available, the MSC would be built up to the strength planned by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, he clarified.

The defence minister also created another deadline for himself, promising on Tuesday that his ministry would finalise a proposal for a “chief of defence staff”, or CDS, and send it up for cabinet sanction by end-June.

In the interview, Parrikar appeared slightly confused about whether the tri-service chief would be a five-star “chief of defence staff”, as recommended by a Group of Minister in 2001; or a four-star “permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee” recommended by the Naresh Chandra Committee in 2012.

“What does a name matter?” he responded to a query by the interviewer. He added the new post would be significantly more powerful than the current three-star “chief of integrated defence staff” that coordinates tri-service planning.

Questioned on “one rank, one pension” (OROP), on which the government has slipped several deadlines, Parrikar stated it would be cleared in a “reasonable” time frame. The proposal was with the finance ministry, he said, and since they had not come back to him with any queries, he assumed it would be cleared.

In January, Parrikar had stated that OROP would be implemented by July, within a year of it being publicly accepted by the new government.

Parrikar reassured ex-servicemen that OROP would be implemented in full; and that arrears would be paid from April 2014. 


  1. Sir,

    If the price is good ( means mush less than Typhoon) then why not ??


  2. Parrikar is no different than Antony. He is not even consulted by Modi in matters related to defense. Parrikar was caught unaware about decision to purchase 36 Rafales and scrapping of MMRCA tender. This just shows that he is merely a rubber stamp RM. The real powers and decisions are being taken by one man.
    Even after 3 months, there is no head of DRDO. Modi sarkar is seriously screwing up indigenous defense infrastructure to favor some industrialists close to him.

    1. You are talking non sense. You are posting here with agenda, not adding value.

  3. Unfortunately I have to say that You are using your blog as a political one.
    I see more political brick-batting than defense analysis.

  4. Is that a T-64 in the background? Why not an arjun?.

    India should be displaying its own "made in India" proudly, no?

  5. @Anon 17.03

    "India should be displaying its own "made in India" proudly, no?"

    You can only be proud of something succeeds - not failed junk that your own people don't want.

  6. @Anon 13.03 :
    "Even after 3 months, there is no head of DRDO. Modi sarkar is seriously screwing up indigenous defense infrastructure to favor some industrialists close to him."

    So if Adani is close to Modi - why was Adani implicated in Coalgate scam and had its coal blocks cancelled ?? Also, why were the same industrialists like Ambanis, Birlas, Mittals etc who made so much money during UPA regime in various scams like 2G, 3G, 4G, Coal, Iron ore etc not close to Congress ?? Or is it that in your universe only BJP can be close to industrialists - while Congress steals all the money for themselves for their swiss bank accounts ??

    Please spare us such idiotic rubbish and baseless allegations.

    Also, what does DRDO have to do with "defense infrastructure" ? DRDO is not a industry it does not manufacture anything and even without a head it can function properly as all principle departments have their own chiefs who report directly to the RM. How does not having a head of DRDO help private industry ? Was the previous guy delivering great shakes ?? IF so, where is TEjas ? Where is Arjun Mk2 ? Where is Nirbhay missile ? Where is Agni 5? All on paper ?

    The "head" and "tail" and nameplates are irrelevant- all that matters is delivery. IF DRDO cannot do what is needed from them then their existence itself is a waste and not required .

  7. Mr Shukla - how is Parrikar committing a "volte-face" when he downsized the MSC ?

    A "volte-face" by definition is "an abrupt and complete reversal of attitude, opinion, or position." .

    When did Mr Parrikar claim to be a proponent of the UPA regime's MSC idea ? Has Mr Parrikar ever said that he will fund the MSC in its entirety ? No.

    Then how can you claim it is a "volte-face" when he never endorsed the misbegotten UPA idea of a MSC without a paisa to its name ??

    It is unfortunate that you have become so partisan and so blatantly so.
    As some have noted - you seem more keen to score partisan points - than actually offer a balanced narrative.

  8. Unfortunately, this is a very biased article. The RM has to remain circumspect in his answer in all the case where the Ajai is alleging "confusion":

    - Why would you want to give the French a full view of the final order? It helps to keep them hopeful of a bigger order because that makes them more motivated to discount. In any negotiation, you always keep possibilities open because you can then come up with creative clauses to further drive down price.

    - Similarly, all that the RM is saying that Mountain Corps would be created and staffed based on affordability. How can he give exact numbers when the long term plan is still being refined? If there is more affordability in 2 years, the MSC will be scaled up.

    - In the same vein, the bureaucratic details of 3 star versus 4 star versus 5 star are likely still being finalized. Why is that detail more important than the actual roles and responsibilities of that position? Another case of needless nitpicking by Ajai.

    - The OROP file is with the Finance Ministry and there is possibility of late breaking changes. So RM cannot say that everything has been worked out. But he is committing a July date for an official announcement.

    I agree with the other anonymous. Your articles are increasingly appearing as a political hatchet job. Nothing wrong in justified criticism. But the biased criticism stands out for anyone who is an objective reader of your articles.

  9. Dear Editor,

    Need for correction - India Today not Indian Today.

    Comment on subject matter later :-)


  10. Sir I don't think mr Rm is clear about the situation of MSC and its imp... thats why he is unclear and secondly abt raffale if we are planning to purchase all in fly away condition then the maint and spare parts also will be an expensive deal ... so purchasing is not the end its the maintenance also just like we are sending the subs be sent to russia would we be sending the jets to after a while and importing the spares....

  11. Its T-72 ....

  12. Volte face ? no , there is just a problerm with some journalists engaged in wishfull thinking

  13. I actually like this guy, parrikar. He does however need to up his articulation skills. Still a fantastic start and hope he is not kept away from the media because of one small mishandling of a question.

    He gives the impression he wants to genuinely reach out and inform people. The media should take the trouble to convey this to the masses without bias and sensationalism. Yes there is scope for improvement in his ministry as you have rightly pointed out, but considering how low the bar was set by the saint, I think this one has reset the bar to respectable standards.

  14. Your take on this sir


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