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Rafale deal: Dassault says it picked Reliance on its own | India News

NEW DELHI: Dassault Aviation, makers of the Rafale fighter, said it picked Anil Ambani‘s Reliance Defence as a partner for a big combat fighter deal on its own, countering a French online media report that said the Indian government insisted on the firm as a condition of the contract.

We are negotiating with a 100-odd potential partners besides signing up BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini and SAMTEL, the French firm has said.

In a statement responding to fresh claims by French website Mediapart that an internal presentation confirmed that a contract with Ambani’s firm was mandatory for the deal, Dassault said it had made the choice of partners as part of offsets worth 50% of the Rs 59,000 crore deal. Offsets relate to manufacture of components by local partners as a commitment to generate revenues in the contracting nation.

The document referred to was in compliance with French regulations. The Dassault statement made it clear that offsets were a mandatory part of the deal with the Indian government.

Mediapart alleged the Dassault document amounted to admission of a “trade-off” with the choice of Reliance Defence as mandatory to landing the deal. The obligatory condition was to build a plant in India.

But Dassault in a statement late on Wednesday denied Delhi had a role in the choice of the partner. It said it had committed to investing 50% of the contract value to benefit the local economy and for that purpose had entered into a joint venture with the private Indian firm.

The joint venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), was created in February last year and the foundation stone for the plant was laid in October in the western state of Maharashtra.

“Dassault Aviation has freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group,” it said. The plan is to produce parts for Dassault’s Falcon 2000 business jets and, in a second step, components for the Rafale combat aircraft that the Indian military is buying to upgrade.

The company said it had trained an initial team of managers and workers and the first Falcon components will be delivered by the end of the year.

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