Mumbai: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said here on Wednesday that dealing with old scams has been the biggest challenge for him after he assumed charge of the post two years ago.
He was responding to a question on the issue on completion of two years in office.
“Some old scam comes into the picture; some company gets blacklisted… It is very easy to blacklist a company but there are very few arms companies to buy material from,” the minister said.
“I can’t buy a gun required for a naval ship because the main company, subsidiary, or smaller company is involved in some sort of blacklisting procedure with the government of India. In Europe, there are virtually three or four groups… worldwide, arms suppliers to India are restricted to about 10 to 12, even though the number may appear to be about 30-40… many of them are linked with each other. It becomes almost impossible to navigate through all this,” Parrikar said.
He said a “mess was created”, giving the example of the Rafale fighter jet deal with the French government.
“Rafale deal… it started in 2000. (For) 16 years, the IAF (Indian Air Force) was trying to buy a fifth-generation fighter plane,” he said.
The minister said” “One gentleman had written on the file that the L1 (lowest bidder) procedure may be negotiated with Rafale; however, because some queries had been raised, the process of zeroing in on L1 should be redetermined.
“L1 is the lowest bidder; it was finalised by a committee of three finance experts. They had given different opinions… They say complete the negotiation and come back and tell me whether the process for L1 was correct,” the minister said.
The IAF had opted for the twin-engined Rafale fighters in January 2012 after overlooking the claims of F-16 of American Lockheed Martin, F/A-18 of Boeing, MiG-35 of Russian United Aircraft Corp’s and Swedish SAAB’s Gripen in a global competitive bid floated in August 2007.
France’s Dassault Aviation had, in 2012, received the IAF nod for 126 Rafale jets in a $12 billion deal in the face of stiff competition from five other manufacturers.
As the deal could not work out, another deal for purchasing 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition was inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in April 2015.
The deal was finalised in September 2016.