Reliance Defence not Dassault's only Indian partner in Rafale deal: CEO Eric Trappier

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 12, 2018, 09.23 AM(IST)

File photo of a Rafale fighter jet. Photograph:( AFP )

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Trappier added that Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence will get about 10% of the offset investments in the Rafael deal. 

Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Ltd will get about 10% of the offset investments from the Rafale deal, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier told AFP in an interview. 

India is buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France's Dassault Aviation. 

Under India's defence acquisition laws, a foreign company making a large sale to India has to invest 30 of the money paid to it back in India. This is called an "offset". 

"In full compliance with this regulation, Dassault Aviation therefore decided to set up the DRAL joint venture with Reliance and build a plant in Nagpur, which should enable us to meet about 10% of these offset obligations," Trappier told AFP. 

"We're in talks with about 100 Indian firms, including around 30 with which we've already confirmed partnerships," Trappier added. 

Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is currently in France, meanwhile reiterated that the NDA government had nothing to do with Dassault choosing Reliance as its Indian offset partner. 

"We are very clear: With the government of France, we agreed to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft in flyaway condition," Sitharaman said.

"And in an intergovernmental agreement, there are no mentions of any individual firms," she said.

"It is more for the companies which have chosen A, B or C as their partners to answer questions if there are any," she said. 

The opposition has accused the Narendra Modi-led government of corruption in the Rafale deal.  

An original deal to buy 126 Rafale fighter planes from France's Dassault Aviation had been brokered by India's UPA government in 2012. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi tore up that deal in 2015, signing a new government-to-government deal with then French president Francois Hollande to buy only 36 of the planes. 

The opposition — led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi — says the NDA government is paying three times as much as the UPA government had agreed to pay for every Rafale. 

Gandhi has also accused the government of crony capitalism. 

The original Indian partner in the Rafale deal was the public sector HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd). But HAL was turfed out of the new deal, in favour of Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence — now of course Trappier says Reliance is not the only partner. 

Reliance Defence was only 12 days old when it made its way into the deal. It also has no experience in the defence and aerospace industries. 

While the government continues to say it was Dassault which chose Reliance Defence and that they had nothing to do with it, Hollande recently said — he was on a trip to India at the time — recently said it was the Indian government which had said Reliance was to be brought into the deal in place of HAL. 

The Congress meanwhile has also alleged that Sitharaman's trip to France is an attempt at a cover-up. 

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(With inputs from AFP)