Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event here, Antony said the issue is in the CNC (contract negotiation committee)" stage.
"The issue is in CNC negotiations... the government cannot interfere. After the CNC negotiations, there are various other areas of scrutiny, then only will it come to the government.. After the CNC there are four-five mechanisms... It will come to the defence ministry, the finance ministry and then the CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security). We are proceeding as per the defence procurement procedure," he said.
The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, had said earlier this month that the deal to procure 126 Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) was critical for the force to maintain its desired levels.
"In case, the MMRCA does not come to us in the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan , then our force levels will to go down rapidly. That is what we have to prevent. We have to maintain force levels to provide deterrent capabilities," Browne had said on Oct 4.
The IAF deputy chief, Air Marshal S. Sukumar, said Oct 18 that the deal would be concluded by the end of the current fiscal that ends March 31, 2014.
French firm Dassault Aviation's Rafale was selected by the IAF in January 2012 but the process of negotiations and signing of the contract is still to be clinched.
Under the terms of the deal, 18 aircraft are to be provided in a flyaway condition, with the subsequent 108 produced locally by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in India. The size of the deal could eventually go up to 200 aircraft.
--IANS (Posted on 30-10-2013)