Rafale is undoubtedly the most celebrated military acquisition in independent India.
One fighter aircraft essentially differs from another for its ability to deliver the weapon loads accurately and high manoeuvrability to exploit the maximum flight envelope and ensure survivability.
Rafale is undoubtedly the most celebrated military acquisition in independent India. Whereas, aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines have a higher calibre to alter the strategic equation – they do not match in swiftness in reaction to a rapidly deteriorating strategic scenario even if they lend a heavier weight to the overall deterrence value, a former Indian Air Force (IAF) officer opines.
According to Group Capt Sundeep Mehta (veteran), “More importantly, for the IAF, this vital capability is much needed to fill the chasm created by declining Squadron strength due to phasing out of its legacy fleets and delays in indigenous Light Combat Aircraft `Tejas’ induction schedule.”
The French aircraft is one of the most modern 4th generation aircraft with the capability to carry a mix of armament and deliver them accurately and yet ensure its own survivability with onboard systems itself. And is designed for air superiority role owing to the mix of accurate weapons it can carry. High thrust to weight ratio coupled with relaxed static stability and canards ensure high manoeuvrability and better chances of survival in a hostile air environment.
Mehta says that “The aircraft has onboard sensors to detect any hostile action by any kind of available weapon systems in the world. It is a small aircraft capable of lifting up to 9500 kg of external loads in a variety of roles. It has low RCS and has is the only other fighter to have successfully challenged the US F22, to date. Need more be said about its distinct qualitative edge!”
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Rafale has a small size with two engines delivering 7.5KN of thrust each and supports 14 external stations of which three are wet and it can carry up to three 2000 litres tanks on each of these wet points. It has AESA radar with the ranges of over 350 km and has a look down shoot down capability. Says the former IAF officer, it supports an integrated Electronic Warfare (EW) system which caters to all the present-day EW threats.
The aircraft can carry up to six air-to-air missile (AAM) and six specialists bombs. It is also integrated with state of the art MBDA Meteor BVRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile, and SCALP air to ground missiles. It has air to air refuelling capabilities can also refuel another aircraft in buddy mode. The Indian version is said to be capable of launching BrahMos missile.
Presently, IAF is acquiring 36 aircraft with likely hood of another 36 in the near future. This will prove to be a game-changer in present-day warfare where the air power plays the deciding role, he adds.