Mumbai: Referring to the row over the purchase of Rafale fighter jets, former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Saturday said that such controversies slow down defence acquisitions, affecting the armed forces' capabilities.
"Had Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman been flying a Rafale instead of a MiG 21 during the India-Pakistan stand-off post the Balakot strike, the outcome would have been different," he said.
Speaking at an event at IIT- Bombay, former Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said that the Supreme Court gave a "fine judgment" on the Rafale issue (giving a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government).
"I have always personally maintained that if you politicise the defence acquisition system, the whole system goes behind," he said.
"All other files also start moving at a slow pace because people start becoming very, very conscious," he said. The Bofors deal too got mired in controversy despite the guns "being good", he noted.
At the same time, people have the right to ask questions about prices of the aircraft as tax payers'' money is at stake, the former air chief said.
"The fact is, because of creating a controversy out of it, the slowing down of defence modernisation later affects you," said BS Dhanoa, who retired in September last year.
"Like the prime minister made a statement. People are saying it is a political (statement) but the fact is that the statement he made is correct."
"If we had Rafale, the question would have been totally different," he said.