New Delhi: Wading into the Rafale jets controversy, Union Minister Babul Supriyo Thursday indicated that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) lost on the deal because it quoted 2.57 times more man-hours to build fighter jets.
While HAL was to produce 108 fighter jets locally in a joint venture with French firm Dassault Aviation in the deal for 126 Rafale jets that the previous UPA regime had negotiated. The state-owned firm, however, was left out in the deal as the present government signed to buy 36 fighter jets in ‘fly-away’ condition from France.
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”.
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,” he said.
Stating that there may be political controversies over the issue, the minister said his limited point was about economics.
“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.