Rafale controversy created by oppn: Minister

Mubarak Ansari
Friday, 5 October 2018

“If we have to fight a two-front war and we need 42 squadrons but currently, there are only 33. Therefore, the Rafale deal was the need of the hour.” Bhamre said.

PUNE: Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre on Thursday said that Rafale controversy has been created by opposition parties to gain brownie points in elections. 

The BJP government is purchasing the fighter aircraft at 9 per cent lower price than what was negotiated by the UPA. He was speaking during on ‘defence manufacturing in India’ at a conclave organised by Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) and L&T in Lonavla.

“If we have to fight a two-front war and we need 42 squadrons but currently, there are only 33. Therefore, the Rafale deal was the need of the hour. Also, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will start delivering indigenously developed Tejas soon. In the next few years, we will have 42 squadrons,” Bhamre said.

When asked about the controversy that Reliance Defence was preferred over HAL, Bhamre added, “The controversy is just politics. HAL is already preoccupied with work orders of over Rs one lakh crore. We will get 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in fly-away condition. It’s the best deal.”

Talking about security scenario around the country, he added, “Today, India not only faces complex security challenges along its borders but also, the international community expects India to be a net security provider in the Indian Ocean region.  Such security responsibilities, therefore, require self-reliance in defence. This, in turn, leads to the colossal requirement of weapons and systems, wherein lies the opportunity in manufacturing.”

The Ministry of Defence has taken some important policy initiatives in the recent years, to position India as an emerging defence manufacturing hub. The Draft Defence Production Policy 2018 envisions India to be one amongst the five top producers of defence products by 2025 and also lays down an export target of Rs 35,000 crore. To allow the industry to plan ahead, the Technology Perspective Capability Roadmap (TPCR) 2018 is already in public domain and to facilitate the industry, certain amendments to the Defence Procurement Policy 2016 has also been carried out recently. 

R&D and innovation are important determinants of defence production capabilities. New and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics are arguably the most important determinants of defensive and offensive capabilities for any defence force in the future. Cyberspace has opened up the fourth domain of warfare beyond land, sea and air, the minister said.

Pune and Lonavla region has a cluster of large OEMs from the private sector, DRDO labs and some DPSUs. Mumbai has the Mazagon Docks and several large OEMs supplying to defence and related sectors. Around Mumbai-Pune-Nashik-Aurangabad and Ahmednagar, there are hundreds, in fact, thousands of MSMEs who can potentially join the defence supply chains in India and abroad. Maharashtra has the potential of being an important manufacturing hub for defence and aerospace, with a large number of MSMEs which can integrate into the supply chain of major OEMs in the industrial zones of Pune and Mumbai and is ideally placed to take a lead role in the mission of ‘Make in India’ in defence sector.

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