Dassault document says tie-up with Reliance was must for Rafale deal: French report

Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani with Dassault CEO Eric Trappier

A Dassault Aviation paper has revealed that the fighter jet manufacturer had no option but to enter into a joint venture with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as it was presented as “mandatory”

An internal Dassault Aviation document has revealed that the fighter jet manufacturer had no option but to enter into a joint venture with Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as it was presented as “mandatory” and a “trade-off” if the French company had to to bag the 36 Rafale jet deal, according to a report in the French investigative website Mediapart.

The Mediapart article states a presentation made by Dassault’s deputy chief executive officer Loik Segalen to the company’s staff representatives in Nagpur in May 2017 where he describes the Reliance partnership as “imperative and mandatory” to get the Rafale export contract to India.

Mediapart had reported, “It was truly a false inauguration. A symbolic ‘first stone’ was placed on pre-cut turf, under a tent of circumstance, in Nagpur, but it announced the beginning of construction of the ‘future factory’ of Dassault-Reliance.

According to an internal Dassault document obtained by Mediapart, a senior executive of the aviation group had explained to the staff representatives that the joint venture was a “trade-off” , “imperative and mandatory” to get a the market for Rafale.”

Loik Segalen, the number 2 officer of the group, had said the alliance with Ambani was indeed presented as a ‘trade-off’ for the Rafale contract of sales, according to the report which was prepared by a staff and obtained by Mediapart.

These allegation have come in the backdrop of Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to France.

According to an internal Dassault document obtained by Mediapart, a senior executive of the aviation group had explained to the staff representatives that the joint venture was a “trade-off” , “imperative and mandatory” to get a the market for Rafale.”

Former French president Francois Hollande had claimed in an interview to Mediapart last month that the Indian government had proposed Reliance Defence as the partner in the Rafale deal and France did not have a choice. Dassault had then clarified that the decision to partner with Reliance Defence was their own.

Allegations and counter-allegations escalated after Hollande's statement. The opposition has accused the government of ignoring the state-run defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to benefit Anil Ambani. Both the government and the industrialist have rubbished the charge.

Even the incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron has appeared to distance himself from the decision-making over the Rafale deal, pointing out to media that he was not in charge at the time the deal was struck between the French and Indian governments.

The opposition has been alleging that the Anil Ambani firm was favoured in the ₹21,000 crore contract at the cost of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) despite the private firm having no prior experience in aerospace manufacturing.

The Narendra Modi government has repeatedly said it was Dassault that chose its India partner and that the government has had no say in the deal. In an interview to The Indian Express on September 13, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had insisted that the two commercial enterprises — Reliance and Dassault — had taken the decision among themselves.

For the better half of 2018, the Rafale deal has been a source of political worry for the ruling Narendra Modi-led BJP government. On Wednesday, Oct 10, the Supreme Court had also asked the government to apprise it of the decision-making process in the deal.

Please read the entire Mediapart report here:

Report from French website Mediapart revealing details into Rafale Deal by National Herald on Scribd

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