Rafale deal has become public debate between Congress and BJP with points of reference from both political parties. Rafale is a French twin-engine multi-role fighter jet designed and built by Dassault Aviation.The Rafale jets are considered one of the most potential combat jets globally. India wanted, fleet of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft in 2007 after the defence ministry, headed then by Congress leader A K Antony, cleared the proposal from the Indian Air Force.The contenders for the mega deal were Lockheed Martin’s F-16s, Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia’s MiG-35, Sweden’s Gripen, Boeing’s F/A-18s and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale. After a long-drawn process, bids were opened in December 2012 and Dassault Aviation emerged as L-1 (lowest bidder).Originally 18 planes were to be manufactured in France and 108 in India in collaboration with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.There were lengthy negotiations between the then UPA government and Dassault on prices and transfer of technology. Details of the negotiated price per Rafale were not officially announced, but it was suggested by the then UPA government that the size of the deal would be USD 10.2 billion.Congress claimed per aircraft rate including avionics and weapons was zeroed in at Rs 526 crore (As per Euro exchange rates prevailing then).
During his visit to France, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 10, 2015, announced India will purchase 36 Rafale jets in a government-to-government agreement.
After the announcement, questions were raised by the Opposition on how the PM finalised the deal without approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security.
A joint statement issued on April 10, 2015, after talks between Modi and then French President François Hollande, said they agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of 36 Rafale jets on terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation as part of a separate process underway.
The statement said the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by Indian Air Force, in clear reference to negotiations and testing process for the Rafale jets under the UPA government.