Air Force Deputy Chief Air Marshal R. Nambiar on Tuesday asserted that the deal for 36 Rafale aircraft by the PM Modi government was "much better" than the one negotiated earlier for 126 planes, contending that "people are misinformed" about the issue.
The remarks came in the backdrop of a mounting multi-pronged attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government by the Congress, with the party on Monday moving the Central Vigilance Commissioner seeking an FIR and seizure of documents pertaining to the Rafale deal.
Asked about the row over the offset partners chosen by Dassault Aviation, he said: "I believe people are misinformed. There is nothing like Rs 30,000 crore to any one party. Dassault alone has offsets to the tune of over Rs 6,500 crore. Nothing more than that.
"We have evaluated all the aircraft available to us in the past," R. Nambiar, who recently flew the Rafale in France, told the media.
"All and all it was a very good deal, much better than what was obtained in 2008," the Deputy Chief Air Marshal said.
"We have looked at six platforms and Rafale has met all our requirements. It has been found the most technically capable as well as commercially viable from our point of view. That is how it has been selected."
Asked about a French media report that there was a push by the Indian government to include Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence in the deal, Nambiar said: "The commercial negotiations were headed by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff and he was responsible for completing the negotiations."
The official said the negotiations continued for "almost 14 months". "We believe we met all the directions of our leadership -- that was to get a better price, better maintenance terms, better delivery schedule and better performance logistic package."
Asked about his experience of flying the Rafale, he said: "It was an opportunity to... look at... the new capabilities on offer for the Indian Air Force. I think the aircraft is shaping up quite well... quite satisfied with the performance of all the systems on the aircraft."