India’s Rafale edge: A look at the special features of the fighter aircraft

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India’s Rafale edge: A look at the special features of the fighter aircraftAfter a 15-year procurement process, India got its first Rafale jet at a ceremony in France on Tuesday, with defence minister Rajnath Singh taking a sortie in the combat aircraft. The first aircraft will arrive in India only in May — a batch of four Rafale jets will be dispatched to the Ambala airbase after training pilots. ET takes a look at the special features of the fighter aircraft.

What it Means?

For almost two decades, the IAF has been perceived to be handicapped on long-range weapons and sensors vis-a-vis PAF

Rafale will reverse this & give IAF the decisive edge with better sensors and weapons. Each Rafale in the air would require at least two F16s for a counter-challenge.

Officials say for each Pak F16 in the air, two Su30MKI jets have to be scrambled because of superior radar & missiles of American jets.

Combined with the upcoming deliveries of the S400 air defence system next year, it will greatly enhance Indian air superiority in the region.

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COMPARED to SU30MKI fighter jets in the IAF, Rafale fares much higher

LOITERING CAPABILITY: 1.5 times of Su30MKI

RANGE: 780-1055 km vs 400-550 of Su30MKI

5 SORTIES per 24 hours against 3 by Su30MKI

THE DEAL:

India in September 2016 inked a direct deal with French government to purchase 36 Rafale jets for €7.87 billion. Deal includes over €3 billion of work for the Indian industry over the next 7-8 years India to get 28 singleseater jets and 8 twinseaters for training

TAIL NUMBER:

Indian Rafale jets carry the RB series of tail numbers, named after current IAF chief RKS Bhadauria.

The Edge:
The weapons package outguns all other weapons systems in the region and will give India the ability to engage Pakistani jets from a distance without being tracked. Also, airto-ground SCALP missile will be able to take down virtually any target within Pakistani soil.

Weapons

SCALP: Precision long-range ground attack missile that can take out targets with extreme accuracy. Has a range of much over 300 km, which means that for Balakot-type operation Indian jets would not need to cross LoC and could conducted the strike from within Indian airspace

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METEOR: Beyond visual range air-toair missile that is possibly the best in its class. Can take out enemy aircraft at a range of over 100 km. Has a no escape zone of over 60 km and the missile easily outclasses the Americanorigin.

INDIA SPECIFIC:
While other nations, including France and Egypt operate Rafale jets, the ones supplied to India are more advanced and modified to meet specific requirements —

Helmet mounted sights & targeting system to give the pilots lightening quick ability to shoot off weapons.

Ability to take off from high altitude airbases like Leh on a ‘cold start’ for quick reaction deployment AMRAAM currently with Pak with dead accuracy.

Towed decoy system to thwart incoming missile attacks

French industrial support for 50 years.

What's next

Rafale jets will be flown by Indian pilots in France for at least 1500 hours as part of testing and acceptance process. First batch of four combat jets is expected to be ferried to India by May next year and will form the first squadron of Rafale fighters that will be deployed at Ambala airbase.

The 17 Squadron will receive the jets.

Future Options

IAF keen to acquire at least 36 more Rafale jets. The infrastructure to accommodate these is already in place and the deal for 36 more is expected to cost much lesser as India-specific enhancements have been paid for.

France has made an offer for additional jets, will cost less than €6 billion and will result in major offsets work for Indian industry.