Air Force Without Aircraft
The India Air Force is experiencing the crisis situation, at a time when it is short by many squadrons of combat aircraft. The Indian Air Force currently operates 34 combat aircraft squadrons, comprised of Su-30 MKIs, MiG-21s, MiG-29s, Mirage 2000s, MiG-27s and Jaguars. The Air Force is complaining that against a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons, India has too few combat aircraft to protect itself. The Indian Air Force is losing its nerves waiting endlessly for India to buy combat aircraft.
The Ministry of Defence, for years, is unable to finalise the deal to provide the medium multi-role combat aircraft. Defence Minister AK Antony does not want to violate any procedures in the acquisition of the combat aircraft and hence the delay in acquisition of the combat aircraft.
The deal for the 126 combat aircraft was originally planned to be $ 11 billion–Rs 50,000 crore. The combat aircraft deal, if it goes through, has now risen to about $30 billion–Rs 2 lakh crores.
Five foreign competitors were short-listed for the purchase. All the five brought in their aircraft for testing live, in the skies of India and its neighbouring environment. The aircraft were tested in the freezing heights of Ladakh, with short runway airfields, at great heights. The aircraft were tested in the vaporising desert heat of Rajasthan.
The complete technical evaluation of each competing aircraft was done by the Indian Air Force perfectly and without any major scam.
The United States of America, the Russia and Sweden were knocked out. France and the multi-nation England-Germany-Spain-Italy aircraft were the two competitors from whom one had to be picked.
The US President Obama was horrified at India. Defence Minister kicked out the American combat aircraft, the F-16 and the Hornet. Obama had promised the US defence manufacturers that Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi were in his pockets and hence India would buy only the American combat aircraft. Obama was shocked when the Americans were thrown out, in preference to the European aircraft. Obama gave an earful to Manmohan Singh, but in futility.
Russia President Putin was angry and is still angry. Russia has been the major defence equipment supplier to India since Jawaharlal Nehru and the USSR bosses had a cozy partnership. Putin had assured the Russian defence contractors that Sonia Gandhi and her aide-de-camp Manmohan Singh would buy only Russia aircraft, because Russia had the stranglehold on the India defence procurement decision-making system for six decades. Putin was petrified when India threw out Russia and preferred the European aircraft. Obama had at least Manmohan to vent his anger but Putin had none in India to shout at!
The Ministry of Defence opened the financial envelopes of the two finalists to arrive at the lowest priced aircraft. The France Dassault Company’s Rafale was designated as the L1, the lowest priced aircraft. The multi-nation typhoon was listed as L2. The L2 price of the Typhoon combat aircraft is slightly higher than the L1 price of the Rafaleaircraft. The Typhoon manufacturers were told that the negotiations would be done with the Rafale, since the Rafale is L1. L2 was not directed to either quit India or continue to wait.
The Ministry of Defence began negotiations for the purchase of the Rafale aircraft, which was assumed to be the lowest bidder. The negotiations with the Rafale manufacturer, the Dassault of France, have not been completed even after almost two years.
The Rafale arrived at the L1 price by not including the exact transfer of technology and the training of pilots costs. The Typhoon had included the entire transfer of technology and the training costs. As a result the Rafale became L1 and was picked for the negotiations. That in itself is a violation of the request for proposal, and is a huge scam.
It is the widespread knowledge that the then France President persuasive Sarkozy and his sexy wife Carla Brune facilitated the Rafale deal with India. Sarcozy and Carla never did anything without billions of good wishes.
An India Member of Parliament smelled a scam. The MP sought an Enquiry by the Defence Minister. The MP wanted the thorough enquiry into the faulty process of designating the France aircraft Rafale as the L1, though it had not included the transfer of technology and the training costs in the L1 price.
The Defense Minister AK Antony has ordered a multi-pronged five-stage enquiry, from the time of opening of the financial envelope, until the time of finalising the contract for buying the combat aircraft. The Defence Minister told the enquiry to ensure that each and every procedure was correctly followed and that there was no violation in the RPF– request for proposal–while beginning the search for the combat aircraft.
The enquiry into designating the LI is still on. The Defence Minister will honestly ensure that the enquiry will perfectly ensure that the correct and the best combat aircraft will be purchased by India at the lowest price offered by the competing manufacturers.
The Ministry of Defence negotiation is going on endlessly with the Rafale manufacturers. The negotiations are stuck, only because of the inability of France, to sell the combat aircraft, the Rafale, to India at the quoted L1 price, inclusive of all the cost factors in the request for proposal.
The Dassault company, the France politicians and the France diplomats are pressurising India defence procurement decision-makers. Hectic lobbying is continuing to make India buy the Rafale combat aircraft at the inflated cost, which is higher than the quoted L1 price. This is because of the post-L1 inclusion of the transfer of technology and the training costs.
The Indian Defence Minister AK Antony has resisted the pressure, so far, of all the power brokers by insisting that the Rafale L1 price must include everything mentioned in the original request for proposal.
The Defence Minister AK Antony does not want a scam. AK Antony wants a 100 per cent clean deal in buying the combat aircraft. The Indian Air Force is requesting the Ministry of Defense to quickly arrive at the decision to buy the combat aircraft. The Ministry of Defence will buy the combat aircraft only if the Defence Minister AK Antony takes the vital decision.
The Defence Minister AK Antony has the following buying options:
Buy the Rafale at the higher price than the quoted L1 price and be prepared for the scam storm!
Order Rafale to agree to sell the combat aircraft at the L1 price by a deadline time, say November 1, 2013. If Rafale complies then sign the deal to buy the Rafale aircraft.
If the Rafale informs its inability to include the transfer of technology and the training costs in the L1 price, then stop the never-ending negotiation process with the Rafale.
Invite the L2 to find out if the Typhoon will be sold at the Ll price or below the L1 price, including all the costs mentioned in the request for proposal. If the Typhoon manufacturers agree to sell the combat aircraft at the L1 price, then negotiate with Typhoon and finalise the deal to buy the Typhoon aircraft.
If the Typhoon is unable to sell the combat aircraft at the lowest price, then cancel the entire tender process. Begin the fresh “request for proposal”, which is a must to be issued for acquiring the combat aircraft. This process will take another five years.
The Indian Air Force top brass feels that the Defence Minister AK Antony must not make the Indian Air Force wait any longer. Further delay by AK Antony will result in the decision being postponed to after the Lok Sabha elections in May 2014. And until the new government takes the decision in 2015! So, AK Antony must immediately, without any further loss of the Indian Air Force flying time, pick one of the above buying options.
The entire United States of America defence manufacturers’ lobby, led by President Barack Hussein Obama wants the MMRCA contract process cancelled. President Obama wants India to begin the fresh contract process, wherein India must buy only American aircraft. President Obama has repeatedly told Manmohan to buy American aircraft only.
The powerful in India-Russia defence contractors’ lobby, led by Vladimir Putin, for once, is in complete agreement with the Americans led by President Obama. Putin wants the tender process for the combat aircraft cancelled. Putin wants India to begin afresh. Putin then wants India to buy only Russian aircraft.
Manmohan would love to buy only American aircraft, since he loves everything American including Obama and his daughter, Amrit, a New York citizen, now a rags to a billionaire life, thanks to 10 years of UPA. Defence Minister AK Antony loves no one except India and will do whatever is in India’s best defence interests.
What do you think, the Defence Minister AK Antony will do in the Ministry of Defence purchase process to buy the combat aircraft? India and the Indian Air Force urgently need the best combat aircraft, which are better than the combat aircraft with China and Pakistan. (politicsparty.com)
By PR Gautam