The first batch of five Rafales landed on the Indian soil at the Ambala Air Force base on Wednesday after covering a distance of 7,000 km. In total, India has bought 36 Rafale jets from France. While the first batch of Rafales will be stationed at the Ambala Airbase, the second batch will be stationed at Hasimara in West Bengal.
The arrival of Rafale gives India a military edge against China and Pakistan. Both China and Pakistan also possess modern fighter jets.
Rafale vs F-16/ JF-17 Thunder vs Chengdu J-20
All three of these aircraft are multi-role fighters, meaning they are made to perform various kinds of operations, including long-range air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks.
While JF-17 is the fourth generation aircraft, Rafale is a 4.5 general "omnirole" fighter aircraft, which allows it to go out on at least four missions in one sortie. China claims J-20 is a 5th generation aircraft.
Both Rafale and JF-17 come in single as well as twin seats. China's J-20, on the other hand, is a single-seat only. India will get 28 single-seat jets and eight twin-seaters fighters from France.
In terms of weight, J-20 weighs 19,000 kg and can carry the weight of up to 37,013 kg. Rafale weighs 9,900 kg-10,600 kg and can carry up to 24,500 kg weight. JF-17 weighs 6,411 kg, with the take-off weight of 12,474 kg. This means both J-20 and Rafale can carry more firepower during their missions.
Rafale is around 15.3 m in length, with a wingspan of 10.9 m and height of 5.3 m. J-20 is up to 20.5 m long, with a wingspan of up to 13.5m. J-17 is 14.93 long, with a wingspan of 9.48 m and 4.77m height.
Rafale attains the top speed of 2,222.6 km per hour, while J-20 and F-17 possess the maximum speeds of 2,400 km per hour and 1,975 kmph, respectively.
Rafale's service ceiling -- crucial during dogfights when pilots want to avoid surface-to-air missiles -- can go up to 50,000 ft, while J-20 and JF-17 have the service ceiling of 65,620 ft and 54,000 ft, respectively.
Rafale can carry most-advanced and lethal weapons available, including air-to-air MCA missile; long-range air-to-air Meteor missiles; and air-to-ground Hammer missile. It can also carry laser-guided bombs with different warheads, and non-guided classic bombs. The scalp long-range missiles loaded in Rafale can hurt deep inside enemy territory.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) recently decided to further boost Rafale's combat capabilities by procuring lethal HAMMER missiles -- a new generation medium-range air-to-ground weapon -- from France. These missiles take out targets in high-altitude areas.
Another major advantage for Rafale is its ability to climb up to 60,000 ft per minute during a dogfight. J-20 can climb up to 59,842.52 ft per minute, while JF-17 has a climbing speed of 59,000 ft per minute.
Another big difference is the battle experience. Rafale is an extremely experienced aircraft, used widely in war missions in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. The J-20, JF-17 have no such experience.
Apart from JF-17, Pakistan also possesses the US-supplied F-16 aircraft. It has a wingspan of 9.96 m, with a length of 15.06 m and 4.88 m height. The jet weighs 9,200 kg with a maximum take-off weight of 13,000 kg. The aircraft has a maximum range of 4,220 km and the top speed of 2,414 km/hr. The aircraft can carry AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles; AIM AMRAAM medium-range air-to-air missiles; and AGM65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles. The aircraft can also carry cluster bombs and laser and GPS guided bombs.