New Delhi: The government-to-government deal struck by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault Aviation SA, cutting through the red tape of a lengthy arms acquisition process to boost India’s air defence capabilities, could well be the template for more deals with the French company in the future.

A defence ministry spokesperson posted on Twitter that government-to-government deals are better than the traditional bidding route for “acquisition of strategic platforms", citing defence minister Manohar Parrikar. The new 36-plane deal will be concluded through a “separate G-2-G negotiation", the spokesperson tweeted, citing Parrikar. Negotiations under the bidding route had “gone into a loop with no solution in sight", according to Parrikar.

The lengthy procurement process that ended in the selection of Dassault Rafale in 2012 has since got stuck in talks. Under the original plan, 18 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) jets were to be bought off the shelf, with the remaining 108 manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in India. However, talks have stalled over issues of pricing and Dassault’s reluctance to stand guarantee for the 108 fighters to be built by state-run HAL.

Former air chief marshal S. Krishnaswamy said one should assume the deal is set to be scrapped.

“Rather than examining what we have lost in time and other parameters, the country should think what gains that we get out of this deal. Government-to-government deals always give better and transparent price," Krishnaswamy added.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the government would adopt the so-called G-2-G model for other deals with arms manufacturers.

What is clear, however, is that the old deal has been scrapped. “One car cannot run on two different roads," Parrikar said at a briefing.

The government’s desire to fast-forward the acquisition has run into resistance from his own party, with senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy threatening that he will move court if Modi went ahead with the deal.

“When my PIL (public interest litigation) is ready on Rafale, I will send it in a sealed cover to the party president for sanction to prosecute," Swamy posted on Twitter on Monday.

On Saturday, Swamy had said: “If the Prime Minister...decides to go ahead with the deal, then I will have no option but to approach the court in a PIL to get it set aside."

He said that Rafale is a less fuel-efficient aircraft lacking in essential performance characteristics.

An expert too criticised the deal.

Bharat Karnad, a senior fellow, national security studies, at the Centre for Policy Research slammed the deal. “This is ultimately a regression, which pretty much torpedoes the ‘Make in India’ thrust of the Bharatiya Janata Party government, which by resuscitating the meeting-the-immediate-need principle for acquisitions takes the country back to ad hoc procurement policies that ended up making India the largest arms importer in the world," Karnad wrote in his personal blog.

He wrote that IAF brass may be happy with this deal.

“But consider the deleterious effects of yet another type of weapons platform added to the fleet. At last count, IAF had 27 different types of aircraft in its inventory. Now add another one, and compound the logistics problem of handling a completely new aircraft and maintenance set-up, requiring the retraining of a whole bunch of people (other than pilots) in France, and then total up the costs," Karnad said.

PTI contributed to this story.

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