Number of Rafale jets to be acquired now less than 1/3rd of original order

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (File Photo: IANS)

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said that the decision to reduce the number of Rafale jets to be purchased by India from France from 126 to 36 was taken in consultation with defence officials.

The decision was taken after discussions and was not the sole decision of the Prime Minister, she said.

On whether Modi was authorised to take a call on reducing the number of aircraft to be purchased without consulting the Indian Air Force, Sitharaman said: “The Prime Minister doesn’t require such permission. But the decision on change in IAF requirement was taken after across-the-table discussions between defence officials of both India and France and as per the urgency of the requirement.”

The Defence Minister said that the reason for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) exclusion from the Rafale deal should be asked from those at the helm of affairs in the previous UPA government.

“The negotiations between HAL and Dassault took place in the UPA rule. The UPA should be questioned on the matter.”

Sitharamn said that the Indian government had no role in the selection of any firm to be an Indian partner of French fighter jet manufacturer Dassault.