In a Facebook Post on October 18, 2018, Rahul Gandhi has quoted a story from The Print, To keep IAF flying, India will pull aircraft from French graveyard, which suggested the following:
- The present government is interested in renegotiating the deal (Rafale) and does not want to close the already negotiated deal.
- The present government is involving into crony capitalism.
- UPA’s Rafale Deal would have transformed the Indian Air Force and would have saved lives of the pilots of Indian fighter jets like Jaguars.
- The renegotiated deal has been brought down to only 36 aircraft and it will take many years for the aircraft to actually come to India.
- India is, thus, forced to buy spare parts for its ancient Jaguar fighter jets and this may shame the country globally.
Here is the fact check on all the above points:
- Considering the fast-declining capabilities of Indian Air Force, the idea for the Multi Medium Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) was first mooted in the year 2001, during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government’s regime. He lost the election in 2004 and the UPA Government ran the administration for the next 10 years until 2014. The UPA Government sat on the Rafale proposal for 10 years without taking it to a closure.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi was compelled to finalise the deal to address the fast-declining capabilities of Indian Air Force, after a decade of no action by the UPA Government.
- In fact, there was no final deal during the UPA Government on Rafale. It was merely a tender by Dassault Aviation Limited and finalisation of its candidature as the least bidder to supply the aircraft to India. The difference between the deal of NDA government and the non-deal of UPA government has already been explained in one of the earlier articles by The True Picture.
- All the baseless allegations, half-truths and lies on Rafale, particularly the charge of benefitting Reliance, have already been busted several times by The True Picture, in the articles covering the Dassault CEO himself (here) and in another detailed piece where the whole series of lies on Rafale was fact-checked. (here).
- Negotiations on the Rafale Deal between the Dassault and the UPA Government continued to face delays due to many infirmities in the negotiations even till 2013, that is 13 years after Indian Air Force alerted about its fast depleting capabilities.
- This delay of 10 long years by the UPA Government in acquiring the fighter jets had already caused the death of many pilots of Indian fighter jets.
- Here is the list of some of them:
Above incident occurred in 2007, when the Congress led by Sonia Gandhi was in power, killing a Jaguar aircraft fighter. This story also highlighted the fact that how the aging fleet of Indian Air Force had killed 10 pilots in 13 crashes, including two from the Jaguar fleet between 2005 and 2007.
Another pilot died in 2009 while flying aging MiG-21 aircraft.
Defence Minister, A.K.Antony, under the UPA government, in his answer in Rajya Sabha on 26 March 2013, said that a total of 29 fighter planes of Indian Air Force crashed in the short span of 3 years only, between 2009-2012, causing deaths of 6 pilots.
- Here comes the pressing question to the Congress President who has now suddenly become worried about the lives of the pilots of fighter jets. What was the government led by his own party doing when so many fighter jets pilots were dying? If the Rafale deal would have transformed Indian Air Force and saved the lives of pilots, why was the deal not finalised, especially when many pilots were dying almost every year, during the UPA rule of 10 years? Why the deal was getting delayed?
- The number has been brought down to 36 mainly to expedite the delivery of air crafts to India i.e. the first Rafale jet would be delivered in 3 years from the signing of the deal (i.e. September 2016) and the whole lot will be delivered over the next 30 months. This addresses both the fast depleting capabilities of the Indian Air Force and to replace the aging fleet which will save the precious lives of Indian pilots.
- Therefore, it is not the ‘years’ as is being painted by the Congress President. Ironically, Rahul Gandhi does not have anything to say on the inaction of his own party led government for 10 years even when so many pilots were dying every year.
- Congress President should watch what Air Chief Marshal of India has to say on the declined air capabilities of Indian Air Force in the last decade. This explains the reason for the Indian government to procure spare parts from other countries to upgrade its fleet of Jaguar aircraft.
#WATCH What we do not have are the numbers, against a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons, we are down to 31. Even when we do have 42 squadrons, we will be below the combined numbers of two of our regional adversaries:Air Force Chief Birender Singh Dhanoa in Delhi pic.twitter.com/DKa6sQHDva
— ANI (@ANI) September 12, 2018
- India faces an imminent national security threat in case of attack from both Pakistan and China together. Indian Air Force doesn’t have the operational capability to counter both the enemies together. Therefore, India not only needs to induct the Rafale aircraft swiftly but also modernise its existing fleet and gradually look for more alternatives to replace it.
- In any case, India Air Force reached this situation due to the inaction of the previous UPA Government over the last decade.
The Congress President Rahul Gandhi appears to have developed a habit of somehow linking everything to the Rafale deal despite the fact that all his half-truths and lies on Rafale having already been busted. This recent Facebook post shows that in his attempt to malign the Modi government, he ended up scoring a self-goal. The current government has not only signed the deal but is also modernising its existing fleet like Jaguar. Both measures will reduce the risk to the precious lives of the pilots. The Congress President quoted The Print story on how India is buying decommissioned jets to be used as spare parts in its fleet of Jaguar which may bring shame to the country. However, Rahul Gandhi needs to understand that in the Westphalian world, India’s prestige lies in maintaining its sovereignty and integrity which can be ensured by strengthening its defence capabilities, whether through new purchase or repair of its existing fleet.