In a major security breach, a break-in and theft occurred in the Paris office of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Project Management Team (PMT) overseeing the Rafale fighter deal, and some documents and have been taken away
The Indian Project Management Team’s office was among three inside a Dassault complex. All the offices were broken into, say sources. E 20,000 may have been stolen from one of the other offices. The police are investigating and have not ruled out anything.
At least two sources confirmed that some safes were broken open and the culprits “managed to get away with some documents…” But the nature of the documents was not known.
“What kind of documents have been taken is yet to be ascertained,” the source said.
The police have been informed and a case has been registered, another source said.
The Indian Project Management team in Paris is headed by a Group Captain-ranked officer of the IAF.
In September 2016, India signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets in a fly-away condition.
The agreement also has a 50% offset clause to be executed by French partners. As per terms of the IGA, deliveries have to begin 36 months after the signing of the contract and should be completed in 67 months. The deal is on schedule and the first aircraft is expected to be delivered this September.
IAF has a PMT in France to monitor the implementation of the deal which also involves significant modifications to the aircraft to incorporate the 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE).
The Defence Ministry, Indian Air Force or the French Embassy have not commented on it yet.
The Rafale is a nuclear-capable aircraft and an attempt to glean some of the technical specifications of the India-specific aircraft could seriously compromise its operations once inducted.
The 36-jet deal has been at the heart of the opposition’s allegation against the government of crony capitalism. Congress president Rahul Gandhi has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of cancelling the previous UPA government’s agreement and signing off on an overpriced deal only to facilitate an offset contract for industrialist Anil Ambani’s inexperienced defence company.