New Delhi, October 12: Amid the ongoing political storm over the Rafale jet fighter deal, the Dassault Aviation that is manufacturing the aircraft, on Friday said it chose Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence over Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) as its Indian partner. Speaking to news agency AFP, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier said they chose Reliance Defence because of "availability of land with direct access to airport runway".
"Dassault Aviation decided to establish a long-term presence in India through DRAL, a joint enterprise in which governance is provided by Indian Chief Executive Officer and French Chief Operating Officer," Trappier was quoted as saying. "Dassault Aviation, therefore, exercises technical and industrial control over operations, applying standards and flexibility. This JV will produce parts for Falcon 2000 and Rafale. Choice of Nagpur site was dictated by availability of land with direct access to airport runway," he added. Arun Jaitley Defends Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Rafale Deal, Says Rahul Gandhi is in 'Revenge Mode'.
Trappier said the choice to select the Indian partner was given to Dassault Aviation as per the Indian regulation. "Signing an offset contract is a requirement of Indian law (Defence Procurement Procedure). The implementation of offsets is an obligation and, under the Indian regulation, the choice of the partners belongs to us," the Dassault Aviation CEO said. Rafale Deal: Rahul Gandhi Calls Narendra Modi 'India's Commander In Thief'.
Trappier's clarification came a day after a French news portal -Mediapart- quoted Dassault Aviation's deputy CEO as saying that Reliance Defence was given to the French company as an 'obligatory' offset partner for the Rafale deal. In its earlier report, the French website had quoted former French President Francois Hollande as saying that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government had proposed Reliance Defence as the partner for the deal.
Following the fresh revelation by the French website, Congress president Rahul Gandhi called PM Modi a corrupt man and asked for his resignation. Gandhi has been targeting PM Modi and his government over the Rafale deal with France and asking why a 70-year-old defence public sector company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was ignored for manufacturing the fighter jet.