Is HAL not capable to make Rafale jets? Complete Truth
New Delhi: There are many controversies triggering over Rafale scam and among them the most recent is why HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) is not given the deal to assemble Rafale fighter jets.
Recently, a statement made by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has created a political debate, in which she alleged that HAL was incapable of making the fighter jets.
She also stated, "Negotiations for procurement of 126 Rafale jets under the UPA government fell through as HAL did not have the required capability to produce the jets in India in collaboration with Dassault Aviation."
Nirmala added, "After rounds of negotiations with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Dassault Aviation felt that the cost of the Rafale jets will escalate significantly if they were to be produced in India."
After her statement, Congress President Rahul Gandhi demanded her resignation and former HAL chief T.S Raju said, "HAL didn’t have the capability to build the RAFALE! Her position is untenable & she must resign."
Replying to her allergations, T.S Raju said, "When HAL can build a 25-tonne Sukhoi-30, a fourth-generation fighter jet that forms the mainstay of the air force, from raw material stage, then what are we talking about? We could have definitely done it (licence produced the Rafale jets)".
Raju, however, admitted that HAL produced aircrafts could have cost more initially. But he explained that in the long-run it would have been cheaper.
He added," You have to see the life-cycle costs and not the cost per piece of a fighter. Life-cycle costs would have definitely been cheaper. And ultimately it’s about self reliance. There is a learning curve. If the French are making 100 jets in says 100 hours, I will take 200 hours as I am doing it for the first time. I can’t do it in 80 hours. It’s a scientific process".
Gandhi’s comment came amid a war of words between the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and the Congress, after Sitharaman during an interview to a news channel claimed that the Bengaluru headquartered company governed under the management of the Indian Ministry of Defence was not competent enough to produce the aircraft.
It is to be mentioned that, this was in light of disagreements over product responsibility and liability.
The Indian government has been insisting that Dassault take responsibility for the aircraft assembled by HAL, over which it had no control, and both sides had been wrangling over this point for the better part of two years.
It is worth mentioning that in 2016, the Modi government signed a government-to-government deal with France for purchase of 36 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs 58,000 crore.