P. L. KhushuSky is nature’s cover to all its creatures on earth. Earth is the creation of the nature as a cognisant unit for its various creatures to reside on it. With the passage of time the human creatures which are otherwise a part and parcel of the overall creatures and the creations of nature upon this earth, through their morbid intentions and greed broke themselves in to various regions and designated themselves as nations with different nationalities. While as the sky is a universal cover for all the nations, most of the times under the present day tormented world such nations need additional manmade covers too in these individual skies of various nations for obvious reasons of assaults and brow beating by other nations for their expansionist policies.Prime Minister Narendra Modi created an overdue defensive cover for we the Indians in our skies by introducing new high tech mechanized birds in the name of ‘Rafale’ Jet fighter aircrafts, to combat any assault on our defence system, both ground, air and naval, particularly from China and Pakistan, our perpetual rivals and enemies.In this regard as per media reports both print and electronic, the first batch of Rafale fighter jets has landed at Ambala, and were inducted into the Indian Air Force. The fighter jets when entered the Indian airspace were greeted by an Indian Navy warship, INS Kolkata, deployed in the western Arabian Sea. These aircrafts are expected to significantly boost the IAF’s combat capabilities at a time when India is locked in a tense border row with China in eastern Ladakh. The IAF has already deployed all its frontline fighter jets in key airbases along the Line of Actual Control, the de-facto border between India and China.On their way to India from France, the jets were refueled mid-air from a French tanker at a height of 30,000 feet. The five Rafale jets left the Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux and arrived in India after covering a distance of nearly 7,000 Km. Later, the Rafales landed at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE after flying for over seven hours, officials said adding it was the only stopover by the jets while flying from France.Rafale is a twin-engine medium multi-role combat aircraft manufactured by French company Dassault Aviation. Dassault claims Rafale has ‘Omnirole’ capability to perform several actions at the same time, such as firing air-to-air missiles at a very low altitude, air-to-ground, and interceptions during the same sortie. It can carry out a wide range of missions like air-defence, reconnaissance, close air support dynamic targeting, air-to-ground precision strike / interdiction, anti-ship attacks, nuclear deterrence, etc.In September 2016, India inked a direct deal with the French government to purchase thirty six new Rafale fighter jets in a 7.87 Billion euro deal.India will also get latest weapons like the Meteor and Scalp missiles as part of the contract, besides a five-year support package that assures high availability of the fighter. India has to pay a 15 per cent advance and deliveries are to start in three years.In April 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India will buy 36 French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets off-the-shelf from Dassault, the French aircraft builder and integrator. The Rafale was chosen in 2012 over rival offers from the United States, Europe and Russia. The step was needed to upgrade India’s ageing fleet. The original plan was that India would buy 18 off-the-shelf jets from France’s Dassault Aviation, with 108 others being assembled in India by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or HAL in Bengaluru.The Modi-led BJP government, however, rowed back from the commitment of the last UPA government to buy 126 Rafales, saying the twin-engined planes would be too expensive and the deal fell through after nearly decade-long negotiations between India and France. There were a lot of hiccups over costs of the aircraft. However, faced with the dipping number of fighters and a pressing need to upgrade the Indian Air Force, Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened and decided to buy 36 “ready-to-fly” fighters instead of trying to acquire technology from Dassault and make it in India.Nearly one- and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris, finally in September 2016, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France, declared as “Rafale deal”, in which India will pay about Rs 58,000 crore or 7.87 billion Euros for 36 off-the-shelf Dassault Rafale twin-engine fighters. About 15 per cent of this cost is being paid in advance. As per the deal, India will also get spares and weaponry, including the Meteor missile, considered among the most advanced in the world. Additionally an accompanying offset clause was sealed through which France will invest 30 per cent of the 7.87 billion Euros in India’s military aeronautics-related research programmes and 20 per cent into local production of Rafale components.In November 2016, however, a political warfare over the Rafale deal began and the Congress accused the government of causing insurmountable loss of tax payers’ money by signing the deal worth Rs. 58000 Crores.It also claimed that the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Limited had been unfairly picked to be the French firm’s Indian partner. The Congress alleged that the cost of each aircraft is three times more than what the previous UPA had negotiated with France in 2012.The Congress however kept up its attacks on the government for refusing to declare the details of the Rafale deal for alleged irregularities. The Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the Parliament earlier, that the details of the deal with France for the Rafale fighter jets cannot be disclosed as per the inter-governmental agreement as it is classified information.In a counter-attack to the Congress, the late Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the party of “seriously compromising” country’s security by seeking details of weaponry purchased along with the aircraft. He also advised Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to learn from former Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee lessons on national security.The authenticity and genuineness of the honest approach by the government of India in the purchase of this deal, was challenged in the Supreme Court of India by some retrograde thinking politicians of lost credibility including some such habitual public interest litigants. Former ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie through activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, had alleged that the government had pulled the plug on a 2001 deal to buy 126 jets at a lower price only to conclude a fresh deal in 2015 to buy 36 jets at a higher price.The then Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused day in and day out in every election campaigns and in his public speeches that the deal was full of corrupt practices. He very indecently called the Prime Minister Modi as a “Chor-a-Thief”, for this deal, which was not liked by the general masses of this country.The Supreme Court gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government in the Rafale fighter jets deal case, saying review petitions against the deal lacked merit. The court struck down pleas that had sought re-examination of the December 14, 2018 verdict which said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.Furtherance to another decision by the Supreme Court of India refused to go back on its December 14, 2018 order, rejecting a probe into the controversial Rafale deal. It also closed a contempt case filed against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who had incurred the court’s wrath over allegedly attributing his chowkidar chor hai remarks to the Prime Minister.Rahul Gandhi was pulled up by the Supreme Court of India for making such derogatory remarks about Narendra Modi which were not based on facts.The Supreme Court’s rejection of a probe into accusations of corruption and impropriety around the controversial Rafale deal has laid to rest the political dog fight that has bedeviled India’s plans to replace its fleet of ageing combat aircrafts.With the inclusion of Rafale Jets to its existing air force combat aircraft jets the Indian Air Force must be now been fortified very powerfully. Such a step by the Modi government has made Indian Air Force’s striking capability very much superior to that of Pakistan and mostly as good as that of China. It equally shoots up the defence strategic military power of India to a world class global grade, when such an improvement in our defence potentialities was very much needed due to the expansionists policies of China, with its ever increasing illegal encroachments on India’ borders in Ladakh sector as also in the eastern sector, when it was also needed to combat constant animosity of sorts being exhibited by Pakistan towards India on its borders with India. We the Indians are now proud to acclaim that India has a Prime Minister in Modi who has lifted the image of India in every developmental field and with his constant leadership; India will soon be considered as a powerful global entity.(The author of this article is a chartered consultant civil engineer, who loves his mother land the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir)
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