‘"New Bird in Arsenal": 5 Rafales Joins Indian Air Force’

  • Category
    Defence
  • Published
    15th Sep, 2020

The first batch of five Rafale multirole fighter jets are formally inducted into the Indian Air Force at Ambala air base in Haryana, at a time when India is engaged in an escalating border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

Context

The first batch of five Rafale multirole fighter jets are formally inducted into the Indian Air Force at Ambala air base in Haryana, at a time when India is engaged in an escalating border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

About

  • The Rafale jets, built by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, are known for air-superiority and precision strikes on ground targets, making them truly multirole jets.
  • Speed: The state-of-the-art 5 Generation Rafale jet can reach almost double the speed of sound, with a top speed of 1.8 Mach.
  • The Rafales (literally meaning "gust of wind", and "burst of fire" in a more military sense) are capable of carrying a range of potent weapons.
  • European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile and Scalp cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.
    • MBDA developed the Meteor to combat common threats facing the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.
  • The multirole French-made fighter jets will become a part of the IAF's 17 Squadron "Golden Arrows". 
  • SCALP missile: 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.
  • The MICA air-to-air missile on Rafale is for both, close-quarter dogfights, and for BVR.
  • HAMMER: At the last-minute, India has also asked for HAMMER (Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range), which is an air-to-ground precision guided missile produced by French conglomerate Safran, and can be used against bunker-type hardened targets within the range of 70 km.
  • India will only be the fourth country, after France, Egypt and Qatar, to fly the Rafale. 

Rafale Specifications

Maximum take-off weight

24.5 Tonnes

Height

5.30 m

Length

15.30 m

Fuel (internal)

4.7 Tonnes

Fuel (external)

Up to 6.7 Tonnes

Top Speed

1.8 Mach at High Altitude

Lending ground run

450 m (1,500 ft)

Background

  • The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and the French Air Force in 2006.
  • India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
  • The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to buy 36 jets for ? 59,000 crore.
  • A second batch of four-five Rafale jets is likely to arrive in India by November.

Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jet

  • The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is the most advanced fighter jet in operation with the Indian Air Force and is the primary air to air and air to ground strike machine. 
  • Su-30 MKI is built in India by HAL under license agreement with Russia’s Sukhoi.
  • The Sukhoi Su-30MKI has a top speed of Mach 2 (2120 kmph) and has a maximum takeoff weight of 38,800 kg. 
  • The jet can carry a wide range of equipment from radars to missiles, bombs and event rockets.
  • Weapon carrying capacity: It is capable of carrying a variety of medium-range guided air to air missiles with active or semi-active radar or Infrared homing close range missiles.
  • It can be used in carrying out nuclear strikes.
  • The Su-30 MKI aircraft is capable of being refuelled by an Air to Air refuelling aircraft or by another Su-30 MKI aircraft carrying a buddy refuelling strap on pod.
  • India's Su-30MKI multi-role fighter-bomber is one of the best 4 generation aircraft currently available.

RAFALE vs China’s J20

  • 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.

How significant is the development?

  • With its multi-role capabilities, including electronic warfare, air defence, ground support and in-depth strikes, the Rafale lends air superiority to the Indian Air Force.
  • The MICA air-to-air missile on Rafale is for both, close-quarter dogfights, and for BVR. At the last-minute, India has also asked for HAMMER (Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range), which is an air-to-ground precision guided missile produced by French conglomerate Safran, and can be used against bunker-type hardened targets within the range of 70 km.
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