Rafale Deal: Did IAF officers lie to the Supreme Court at the behest of the Modi govt?

In the Supreme court, Air Force officials had said that no fighter planes were inducted into the Air Force after 1985. Whereas the truth is that the Sukhoi aircraft was included in the IAF in 2004

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Umakant Lakhera

Did the Air Force officials lie to the Chief Justice of India at the behest of central government. In the Supreme Court, the Air Force officials had said that after 1985 the air force did not get any fleet of fighter planes. The statement is quite far away from the truth as the Sukhoi aircraft was included in the IAF in 2004.

Air force officials told the Supreme Court that no fighter jets have been included in the fleet after 1985.

Fact: Sukhoi was not manufactured in the year 1985

Fact: Sukhoi was included in the air force in the year 2004.

Fact: According to the Air Force records, the fleet of 42 Sukhoi aircraft joined the Air Force in 2012

During the hearing by the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in the Supreme Court on Rafale case, it appears that the Air Vice Marshal J Chalapathi and Air Marshal VR Chaudhary (Deputy chief of Air Staff ) deliberately misled and tried to hide facts? The Air Force and Defense specialists are in a shock over this.

This serious error came up in the Supreme Court during the hearing process on Wednesday when the bench asked Air Marshal VR Chaudhary and Vice Chief T Chalapathi, “Until now, which are the aircrafts which are being manufactured in India?” In response to this question, the reply of Air Force officers present in the court was: “The fleet of Sukhoi 30 aircraft is the latest consignment which was included in the Air Force in 1985.”

This is the statement which has sent the Defence experts in a shock. The truth is that in 1985, no Sukhoi aircrafts were even manufactured. The design of Sukhoi aircraft was ready only in 1995.

During the hearing, Chalapathi described the Sukhoi series as a 3.5-generation fighter aircraft. Air Vice Marshal T Tulipi, who was totally convinced of the entire process of Rafael deal, informed the bench of the importance of this whole agreement in view of India’s security needs. In this sequence, the bench asked question in curiosity, “This means that since 1985, no new fighter aircraft have been included in the Indian Air Force.”

To this question, both the top IAF officers answered in the affirmative before the Supreme Court.

So did these two officials intentionally not amend the wrong assessment by the judges?

In the strategic circles, this misrepresentation by the Air Force’s top officials in the Supreme Court is being considered to be a serious case. They have been stating that it was the responsibility of the Air Force officers to truthfully express that an agreement was signed with Russia for the Sukhoi-30-class fighter aircraft in 1996. And that was 22 years ago.

It should be remembered that then there was a United Front government at the Centre formed with the support of the Congress. HD Deve Gowda was the Prime Minister and Mulayam Singh Yadav was the Defence Minister. Then there was a new agreement with Russia in October 2000. It was decided that Russia will provide 140 and modern Sukhoi aircraft to India and transfer technology too.

Sukhois were considered to be the world's most advanced fighter aircraft at that time. These aircrafts were upgraded with air-to-air capability, modern radar systems and with a capability to be refueled in air.

It was included in the terms of agreement with Russia that Sukhoi Aviation was to manufacture them in India in partnership with Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL). After the agreement, in 2000, technology was transferred to India. After that, the first fleet of India-made Sukhoi aircrafts was inducted into the IAF in 2004. According to the Indian Air Force records, in December 2012, 42 fleets of India-made Sukhoi aircrafts were inducted in the Air Force.

The dispute over the statement of the Air Force officials was clarified from the Air Force on Wednesday evening, that the officers had mistakenly said it.

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Published: 15 Nov 2018, 11:56 AM