Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Rajya Sabha on Monday that there is no difference in the configuration of the Rafale aircraft that India has purchased under a new deal from France, compared to the old agreement that the United Progressive Alliance government had entered into.
Replying to a question by Congress MP KC Ramamurthy, Sitharaman added that the basic price of the 36 aircraft has already been disclosed to Parliament, and that all pricing details have been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. However, the defence minister said that comprehensive pricing details cannot be revealed, as they will overlap with sensitive details of kinds of systems, equipment and weaponry, which is against national interest.
However, on January 2, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had told the Lok Sabha that there is a difference in the prices of base aircraft and those with weapons attached. Jaitley said the price of the 36 bare aircraft was 9% lower than under the UPA’s deal, but the weapon systems made them more expensive. He added that the price of weaponised aircraft was 20% cheaper than under the agreement made by the Congress-led government.
The Congress has accused the Narendra Modi-led government of paying more for the aircraft, and demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee investigation into it.
A joint statement India and France issued in 2015 corroborates Sitharaman’s reply in the Lok Sabha on Monday that there has been no change in configuration. The statement, referring to the Rafale jets, said “the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved by the Indian Air Force”.