Why the Hype Over Dassault Rafale is Completely Warranted

As India welcomes the first batch of Rafale fighter jets, here’s why the hype over the jet is warranted.

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(This story has been republished from The Quint’s archives as the Rafale jets get inducted into the Indian Air Force on 10 September. This story was first published on 30 July 2020)

Video Editor: Vivek Gupta

The addition of the Dassault Rafale to the Indian Air Force’s fleet has been much awaited and much hyped over the years. Now that it has finally touched down in Ambala, we take a look at why the addition of this 4.5 generation ‘omnirole’ fighter jet is a big deal for India.

The twin-engine, delta-winged jet, which is now the most advanced aircraft in the IAF’s fleet, boasts of an advanced avionics system that is designed to reduce radar cross-section, making the aircraft difficult to track and shoot down, despite lacking stealth technology.

This system, also known as the SPECTRA, deploys radar warning receivers, low band jammers, infra-red search and tracking systems and a towed decoy system. Fun fact: This system makes up to 30 percent of the cost of the aircraft.

The jet is powered by two SNECMA M88-2 engines pushing it to a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 and a range of 3700 km. 

Packed with a host of features, the aircraft can also refuel mid-air not only from a tanker but also from another Rafale, in a feature called the buddy-to-buddy refuelling. The pilot, on the other hand, gets treated to a holographic heads-up display inside the cockpit.

It’s ‘omnirole’ makes it capable of a wide variety of missions including reconnaissance, close air support, anti-ship attacks, and nuclear deterrence. The Indian variant of the aircraft also boasts of being able to perform quick landings and take-offs from high altitude bases like Leh.

When it comes to its weaponry, the aircraft, which can carry 14 tons of payload, is capable of engaging targets not only in the air, but also on the ground. The Indian variant of the aircraft is coming loaded with the SCALP missile which can target ground targets up to a range of 300 km. It has the HAMMER missile for ground targets up to a range of 70 km and the METEOR missile for air targets that are beyond visual range.

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