On 10 September 2020, Indian Air Force officially inducted Dassault Rafale fighters in a dazzling ceremony. The induction comes as major firepower boost for Indian Air force especially at a time when India is facing Chinese belligerence in Ladakh and soldiers from both nations are within 200 meters of each other. The high-profile ceremony was attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, French Defence Minister Florence Parly, CDS General Bipin Rawat and Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria.
During the induction ceremony, a traditional ‘Sarva Dharma Puja’ which represents all religions in India along with a customary ‘water cannon salute’ was performed before the Rafale fighter was officially inducted in 17 Squadron of the Indian Air Force which is called the “Golden Arrows”. The event marked a milestone in the history of the IAF as the service inducted a new foreign fighter jet after a gap of 20 years as Su-30MKIs were inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 1997.
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Dassault Rafale is a formidable fighter jet with cutting edge technologies. The arrival of these fighters will significantly boost the IAF’s combat potential especially at a time when India is locked military dispute with China in eastern Ladakh.
In 2015, India ordered 36 Dassault Rafale in an inter-governmental agreement with France in a Rs 59,000 crore deal that was a result of erstwhile MMRCA competition. Initially, the delivery of Rafale fighters was expected to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, on India’s special request France not only adhered to deliver these fighters on schedule but also sent additional Rafale fighters to India as part of the first batch.
The Dassault Rafale is lethal strike platform that is equipped with a wide range of weaponry for various kind of missions that will include air supremacy missions to defeat enemy fighters, interdiction missions in support of ground forces, aerial reconnaissance, deep strike missions against strategic targets, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence missions. It is because of the capability to perform so many varied roles Dassault Rafale is often called an “Omnirole” fighter by Dassault.
The Rafale has a very high level of agility as Dassault combined a delta wing with active canards for achieving maximum maneuverability. Rafale can withstand the gravitational force of 9g with full battle load, 10.5g in Rafale solo displays without arms, and a maximum of the force of 11g in case of emergency.
Rafale is not a stealth fighter but has greatly reduced radar cross-section and infrared signature. Rafale gains stealth edge by covering seventy percent of surface area by composite and use of S-duct intakes. Many advanced stealth features that reduce Rafale’s radar signature remain classified with include highly sophisticated aerial decoy system that replicates Rafale radar signature to fool incoming enemy missiles.
Dassault Rafale places maximum emphasis on cutting edge technology as the cost of radar, self-protection equipment, and communication systems account for 30 percent of the cost of the entire aircraft. The Rafale has SPECTRA integrated defensive-aids system that protects it against enemy missiles.
Rafale carries state-of-the-art RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar that can detect enemy jets beyond 200 km. In addition to cutting edge radars, Rafale has multiple passive sensors that are used against enemy fighters.
Rafale has a Sukhoi style electro-optical system called OSF that can detect targets in both visible and infrared wavelengths while being immune to jamming. This cutting-edge system enables the use of infrared missiles like MICA at beyond visual range. OSF can easily detect and identify enemy fighters, ground troops, and ships with equal ease. OSF provided long-range passive surveillance capability that becomes pivotal in achieving surprise.
Dassault Rafale carries 30 mm GIAT 30 revolver cannon as standard armament while it can carry the entire range of lethal missiles which differ as permission requirement. For air defence missions Rafale carries much famed Meteor beyond visual range (BVR) missile that can target enemy fighter flying beyond 120 km. Rafale fighters also use Mica IR and EM air-to-air missiles for close aerial battles.
For ground attacks against enemy targets located in-depth, Dassault Rafale uses stealthy SCALP cruise missiles and AASM Hammer air-to-surface missiles. Rafale also carries AM39 Exocet sea-skimming missiles for targeting enemy ships. It is estimated that in near future Indian Rafales will also be quailed to carry air-launched BrahMos missiles that will add another formidable weapon on Dassault Rafale.
Dassault Rafale has 14 hardpoints and carries nine tons of armaments which is greater than Sukhoi-30 MKI’s 12 hardpoints and eight-ton carrying capacity. This massive payload capacity of Rafale fighters is due to two powerful Snecma M88 engines which allow Rafale to supercruise while carrying four missiles and one drop tank. Snecma M88 engine uses advanced technology to reduce radar and infrared signatures of engine exhaust.
Thus, new Dassault Rafales will surely give a technological edge to Indian Air Force and enable it to hold itself against any Chinese fighter jets until J-20 enters the Tibet plateau. However, only 36 Dassault Rafales will not be enough to meet the current shortfall of fighter jets. Therefore, Team Guarding India hopes that the Indian Air Force will exercise the option of an additional 36 Dassault Rafales from France while simultaneously starting the MMRCA 2.0 fighter acquisition program.
This Guarding India Exclusive was first published in July 20 and has been republished due to readers interest.