Amid allegations by the Congress against the Rafale deal, senior Air Force officers who have been associated with the contract negotiations are likely to speak and clear the air about the charges at a seminar expected to be held on September 12.

To ensure complete transparency in the contract, the Narendra Modi government, in a rare move, had decided to appoint Indian Air Force officials as the head the contract negotiations with the French firm Dassault Aviation. “A seminar is being planned to be held on September 12 where the theme would be about the desired force structure of the Air Force in the year 2035. During the event, officers who have been associated with the Rafale deal would also be attending and are likely to answer all the questions related to every aspect of the contract signed with France in September 2016,” government sources told MyNation.

Air Force think-tank Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) is organising the seminar. The organisers may rope in Central Air Command Chief Air Marshal SBP Sinha, who was the initial head of the Rafale Contract Negotiations Committee (CNC) and was involved in the benchmarking process of the contract. The contract was concluded under present training command chief who was the deputy chief of air staff at that time.

In the Air Force, all the fresh procurement of weapon systems and platforms is done by the Deputy Chief.

Current Deputy Chief of Air Staff and Kargil war hero Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar is expected to address the seminar, too, where the inaugural address is likely to be delivered by IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa.

The Air Force chief has already clarified that there was no over-pricing in the Rafale deal as the Congress is alleging, trying to make a narrative of corruption against the Narendra Modi government stick.

Sources in the Air Force said the allegations about the lack of transparency in the deal are unsubstantiated as the entire negotiation process was done by Air Force officers who have ensured complete transparency. 

The 36 planes acquired under a Rs 60,000 crore deal by the Modi government are expected to start arriving in September 2019 while the entire fleet would be delivered by the year 2021-22.

The Air Force is in favour of buying more Rafale aircraft to arrest the number of its dwindling fighter plane strength.