Dassault junks Mediapart report, says it picked Reliance on its own

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Dassault Aviation mentioned it picked India’s Reliance Defence as a companion for a giant army fight deal on its own, countering a French on-line media report that mentioned the Indian authorities insisted on the agency as a situation of the contract.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s buy of 36 Rafale planes in a deal estimated to be value $8.7 billion has change into a political controversy and on Thursday his rivals seized on the revelations by Mediapart as additional proof of wrongdoing.

The deal has confronted scrutiny each on the value and the choice to decide on billionaire Anil Ambani’s Reliance as an area companion with no aeronautical experience as a substitute of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics which has an extended historical past of creating planes.

The French information outlet mentioned it had obtained a Dassault firm doc by which a senior government is quoted as saying the group agreed to work with Reliance as an “imperative and obligatory” situation for securing the fighter contract.

Under India’s defence procurement guidelines, any firm promoting gear should make investments at the very least 30 p.c of the contract in India as a part of an “offset” clause to assist construct a home manufacturing base and cut back the nation’s dependence on imports.

Mediapart’s report appeared to corroborate former French President Francois Hollande’s feedback final month that New Delhi had put stress on Dassault to decide on Reliance because the offset companion in a deal value hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to Indian firm.

The deal was sealed when Hollande was in workplace.

But Dassault in a press release late on Wednesday denied Delhi had a job within the alternative of the companion.

It mentioned it had dedicated to investing 50 p.c of the contract worth to learn the native economic system and for that objective had entered right into a three way partnership with the non-public Indian agency.

The three way partnership, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), was created in February final 12 months and the muse stone for the plant was laid in October in Maharashtra.

“Dassault Aviation has freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group,” it mentioned. The plan is to supply components for Dassault’s Falcon 2000 enterprise jets and, in a second step, elements for the Rafale fight plane that the Indian army is shopping for to improve.

The firm mentioned it had skilled an preliminary staff of managers and employees and the primary Falcon elements can be delivered by the tip of the 12 months.

India picked the Rafale airplane to interchange its ageing fleet of Russian plane from a area that included Lockheed Martin F-16, Saab’s Gripen, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing ‘s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Russian MiG-35.

The chief of the principle opposition Congress celebration, Rahul Gandhi, mentioned Modi had been silent on the allegations of wrongdoing within the deal.

“PM should come clean on the Rafale deal. He came to office with the express purpose of eliminating corruption and now we have a clear case of wrongdoing before us,” Gandhi informed reporters whereas the celebration distributed copies of the French report.

The defence ministry mentioned it stood by its place that the federal government had no position to play in Dassault’s collection of its native companion. Modi couldn’t be reached for remark however members of his celebration have repeatedly derided the opposition saying they had been undermining nationwide safety.

Reliance didn’t reply to a request for remark.


(Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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