France on Tuesday delivered the first of the 36 Rafale fighter jets to India as part of the $8.78 billion (Rs 59,000 crore) deal signed in 2016. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who's on a three-day visit to France, received the first Rafale aircraft at Dassault Aviation's facility in Merignac and even took a sortie on it. Of the total 36 aircraft, four will be flying over the Indian skies by May 2020. The induction of Rafale aircraft in the Indian Air Force will add immensely to India's air power, making it one of the four countries, besides France, Egypt and Qatar, to possess the next-gen fighter jet. The first batch of Rafale will be station in Ambala with Vintage 17 Squadron, while the second batch will be stationed at Hasimara in West Bengal.
What are Rafale's capabilities?
The fully versatile Rafale can carry out all combat aviation missions, including air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence. Its 'delta wings' makes it far superior to its competitors due to extremely stable and supersonic speed. The aircraft's advanced engine is capable of allowing the throttle to shift from combat to idle power in less than three seconds. It can jam enemy radars, detect targets anywhere including sea, ground and air. Other superior capabilities of Rafale include close air support, dynamic targetting, air-to-ground precision strike, anti-ship attack capability and buddy-buddy refuelling.
Specifications of Rafale
Rafale can attain a maximum speed of Mach 1.8/750 kt (2,222.6km per hour) and can climb to up to 50,000 ft. Though Rafale can fly up to a range of 3,700 km, it can be refuelled mid-air. The 15.27 metre long aircraft has wing length of 10.8 metres each. The aircraft is superior to Sukhoi 30 MK1 in terms of carrying ammunition. While Sukhoi 30 MKI can carry ammunition up to 8,000 kg, Rafale can easily carry bombs up to 9,500 kg.
What missiles can Rafale deploy
The advanced Rafale aircraft can carry a nuclear weapon, and deploy next-gen air-to-air MICA missile; long-range air-to-air Meteor missile; long-range SCALP missile; anti-ship AM39 EXOCET missile; laser-guided bombs with different warheads; non-guided classic bombs. It also boasts NEXTOR 30M79130 mm internal cannon. While SCALP can destroy still objects, MICA's stealth power can hit targets beyond visual range (over 100 km). Rafale's cannon can release over 2,500 rounds in one minute.
Companies associated with offset contract
Apart from Dassault, French companies Thales and Safron are also involved in the Rafale's production. And, as per the deal, these three companies have to plough back defence offsets worth Rs 30,000 crore into India by 2023. While Dassulat will spend the money on airframe and system integration, Thales will invest in electronics, radar and counter-measures in aircraft. Safron will develop the M88 engine and landing gear.
Edited by Manoj Sharma