The Chief Executive Officer of Dassault, Eric Trappier, refuted the allegations made by the Congress President Rahul Gandhi regarding the agreement by the Indian government to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets. “I don’t lie,” he said in an exclusive interview to news agency ANI.
Rahul Gandhi had earlier said that Trappier had lied about the Rafale deal to protect the Modi-led government. Dassault is the French company that makes the Rafale fighter jets, 36 of which have been procured by the Indian government for the country’s Air Force. Trappier said the allegations about details of the Dassault- Reliance Joint Venture (JV) for offset contracts in the Rafale Jet deal were false.
Rahul Gandhi, in a press conference on November 2, alleged that Dassault invested Rs 284 crore in a loss-making company promoted by Anil Ambani which was used to procure land in Nagpur. “It is clear the Dassault CEO is lying. If an inquiry starts on this Modi is not going to survive it. Guaranteed,” added Gandhi.
“I don’t lie. The truth I declared before and the statements I made are true. I don’t have a reputation of lying. In my position as CEO, you don’t lie,” Dassault CEO Eric Trappier responded to Rahul Gandhi’s allegations while speaking to ANI in the Dassault hangar housed in Istres-Le Tube Air base located North of the French city of Marseille.
Trappier said that they had prior experience dealing with the Congress party and the comments made by the Congress president made him sad.
“We have a long experience with the Congress party. Our first deal was with India in 1953 with Nehru and other Prime Ministers. We have been working with India. We are not working for any party. We are supplying strategic products like fighters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Government. That is what is most important,” said Trappier.
When pressed further for the reason behind Dassault’s choice of Reliance as an offset partner which had no experience in manufacturing fighter jets, Trappier clarified that the money being invested was not going to Reliance directly but in a Joint Venture (JV) that included Dassault.
“We are not putting the money in Reliance. The money is going into the JV (Dassault-Reliance). Engineers and workers from Dassault are taking the lead as far as the industrial part of the deal is concerned,” said Trappier.
“We chose Ambani by ourselves. We already have 30 partners other than Reliance. The IAF is supporting the deal because they need the fighter jets for their own defence to be at the top,” Eric Trappier told ANI’s News Editor Smita Prakash, on allegations of corruption in the Reliance-Dassault JV deal.
— ANI (@ANI) November 13, 2018
On the pricing issue, the CEO said that the present aircrafts are cheaper by 9 %. “Price of 36 was exactly the same when you compare with 18 flyaway. 36 is the double of 18, so as far as I was concerned, it should have been double the price. But because it was government to government, there was some negotiation, I had to decrease price by 9%. The price of Rafale in flyaway condition is less expensive in the 36 contract than the 126 contract,” he said.
“It’s because the 126 didn’t go smooth that the Government of India had to reconfigure to urgently acquire 36 from France. And then I took the decision to continue with Reliance, and HAL even said in the last few days that they were not interested to be part of the offset. So, it has been done by my decision and the decision of Reliance to invest in a new private company,” added Trappier.
He added that Dassault was earlier in discussions with several other companies for offset tie-ups. “Obviously, we could have gone to Tata or other family groups. At that time, the decision to go ahead was not given to Dassault. We were in 2011, Tata was also discussing with other flying companies. We finally decided to go ahead with Reliance as they have experience in big engineering facilities,” Trappier said.
Talking about the aircraft, the Dassault CEO explained that the present planes will have all necessary equipments but not weapons and missiles. “The weapons will be sent in different contract. But the aircraft with everything other than weapons will be dispatched by Dassault,” he said.