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Why was HAL left out of Rafale deal? Union minister Babul Supriyo has the answer

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New Delhi, Sep 27: With the Congress relentlessly attacking the BJP-government over the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) being left out of the Rafale deal, Union Minister Babul Supriyo has said that the state-owned firm had quoted more man-hours for the job which Dassault, manufacturer of the Rafale fighters, wanted to be done in less.

File photo of Union Minister Babul Supriyo

Minister of State for Heavy Industries Supriyo, speaking at a conference on public sector enterprises organised by CII here, said HAL quoted "257 man-hours" for a job Dassault said could be done in "100 man-hours".

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The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had put out a tender for 126 fighter jets and had planned to buy 18 Rafale fighters in fly-away condition from Dassault, with the remaining to be built in India along with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. In 2015, however, on a visit to France, Modi announced a completely new deal, in which India would be getting 36 Rafale jets from France, all in fly-away condition.

Later it emerged that Dassualt would be partnering with Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence as part of the offset obligation. The Congress has been attacking the government alleging that the HAL was sidelined.

For the production of Rafale fighter jets, "when Dassault said they needed 100 man hours, HAL said they needed 257, so that is indeed a big factor," Supriyo said.

Stating that there may be political controversies over the issue, the minister said his limited point was about economics.

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"I am just saying that we need to definitely look into why something that can be made in 100 hours would require 257 hours. Are we faltering somewhere. Can we bring it down? Can we negotiate on that? These are small areas that need to be looked into," he said.

"So that is the question that all of us need to answer and that is where the government is trying their very best to support and push those public sector enterprises which need that support by the infusion of funds or the right injection at the right time - be it funds or any R&D."

Later speaking to PTI, the minister clarified that his remarks were directed at the PSUs to assess how to match with their private peers in a time of globalisation. HAL is a Bengaluru-based defence public sector unit and does not come under his department.

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Last week, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said negotiations for procurement of 126 Rafale jets under the UPA government fell through as HAL did not have the required capability to produce the jets in India in collaboration with Dassault Aviation.

OneIndia News with PTI inputs

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