Rafale – A Game Changer for Emerging India

The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. The fully versatile Rafale is able to carry out all combat aviation missions: air superiority and air defense, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence. The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006. With more than 30,000 flight hours in operations, it has proven its worth in combat in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. The Rafale was ordered by Egypt, Qatar and India.

Rafale Deal Details

In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition. India chow Dassault over its traditional partner Russia’s MiG. The deal has a 50% offset clause to be executed by Dassault Aviation and its partners in partnership with Indian companies. The basic cost of the aircraft is about t 680 crore. This deal is India’s biggest-ever procurement. Besides the missile systems, the Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10 hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others. On June 29, 5 Rafale arrived in India. All 36 aircrafts will be delivered on schedule by end of 2021.

Specifications of Rafale

SpecificaitonDetails
Wing Span10.90 m
Length15.30 m
Height5.30 m
Overall empty weight10 tonnes
External load9.5 tonnes
Maximum take-off weight24.5 tonnes
Fuel (internal)4.7 tonnes
Fuel (external)up to 6.7 tonnes
Ferry Range3,700 km
Top Speed1.8 Mach at high altitude
Landing ground run450 m
Service ceiling50,000 ft

Technical Features of Rafale

  • Rafale can carry out short/long range missions, sea attacks, reconnaissance, high accuracy strikes.
  • Rafale is powered by two M88-2 Engines, each have thrust of 75kN
  • Rafale is equipped for buddy-buddy refueling(one Rafale can refuel other Rafale while being in air)
  • Rafale has omnirole capability meaning it can conduct mutiple tasks at same time
  • Rafale can carry six AASM(Armement Air-Sol Modulaire) missiles
  • Rafale is equipped with RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar
  • Rafale is fitted with an on-board oxygen generation system, that’s why no need to refill liquid oxygen again and again

India Specific Enhancements to Rafale

  • Helmet mounted sights and targeting system to give the pilots lightening quick ability to shoot off weapons
  • Ability to taken off from high altitude airbases like Leh on a ‘cold start’ – for quick reaction deployment
  • A radar warning receiver to identify hostile tracking systems
  • A towed decoy system to thwart incoming missile attacks
  • French industrial support for fighter for 50 years

How Rafale Fighter will enhance capabilities of Indian Air Force

  • The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDAs Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.
  • The Meteor is powered by a unique rocket-ramjet motor that gives it far more engine power for much longer than any other missile. Besides the missile systems, the Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10- hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others.
  • Another significant factor with the Rafales is that as per contract, at least 75% of the Rafale Beet has to be operationally available, which would make it the most available fighter in the IAF fleet.
  • According to its manufacturer Dassault Aviation, Rafale is an omni-role fighter capable of the entire spectrum of roles — air superiority and air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence. With its advanced AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, electronic warfare suite and network-centric capabilities in addition to its armaments, Rafale is now the most advanced fighter in the IAF arsenal, overtaking the SU-30MKI, which is due for major upgrades.

Comparing – Rafale versus China’s J20 and Pakistan’s F16

  • While China’s J20 Chengdu jets are called fifth generation combat jets, compared to 4.5 generation Rafale, the J20 have no actual combat experience. Whereas the Rafale is combat proven, having been used by the French Air Force for its missions in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. It has also been used for missions in Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria. Rafale can also carry more fuel and weapons than the J20.
  • Each RAFALE has 14 storage stations for weapons. The jets come with one of the most advanced Meteor air-to-air missiles. The 190-kg missile has a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) of over 100 Ion, traveling at a top speed of Mach 4. The F16 jets, used by Pakistan, carry the AMRAAM missile, which has a BVR of 75 km. Rafale can also outperform F16 in dogfights.
  • The Rafale jets also come with SCALP, the air-to-ground cruise missile with a range over 300 km. It is a long-range deep strike missile.

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