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Rafales are here! Know about IAF's game-changer

By THE REDIFF NEWS BUREAU
Last updated on: July 29, 2020 14:45 IST
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Here's your guide to know about India's much-awaited aircraft.

After covering a distance of 7,000 km with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates, the first batch of five Rafale fighter aircraft have arrived in India on Wednesday from France.

The much-awaited aircraft are expected to significantly boost the Indian Air Force's combat capabilities at a time India is locked in a tense border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

The five jets will touch Ambala air force station at 2 pm nearly four years after India and France inked an inter-governmental agreement to supply 36 of the multi-role jets to the Indian Air Force under a Rs 59,000-crore deal.

Out of 36 Rafale jets, 30 will be fighter jets and six will be trainers.

The trainer jets will be twin-seater and they will have almost all the features of the fighter jets.

The first squadron of the Rafale jets will be stationed in Ambala air base.

Official sources said the Rafale jets are likely to be deployed in the Ladakh sector as part of IAF's efforts to enhance its operational capabilities along Line of Actual Control with China in view of the border row with the country.

The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. 

The Rafale fighter jet is powered by two M88-2 engines from SNECMA. Each engine provides a thrust of 75kN.

Missiles aboard Rafale aircraft

European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and SCALP cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets

Meteor is the next generation of BVR air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat.

The weapon has been developed by MBDA to combat common threats facing the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden.

The Meteor is powered by a unique rocket-ramjet motor that gives it far more engine power for much longer than any other missile, said an official.

MICA missile 

The IAF's Rafales will also carry the shorter-range MICA air-to-air missile, which is separately being fitted on to the IAF's Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft fleet as part of its ongoing upgrade.

MBDA claims the MICA is the world's only air-to-air missile that features two interoperable seekers (active radar and imaging infrared), allowing the missile to be used in close-in, fighter-to-fighter dogfights as well as in the BVR role.

One of the MICA's key attributes is its ability, while in the BVR mode, to fly much of the distance to the enemy aircraft in passive mode -- without radiating radar waves, which alert the adversary.

When it approaches the target, the seeker starts radiating only in the final stages when the target has little time to take evasive manoeuvres or to deploy effective countermeasures.

SCALP missile

For striking ground targets, the IAF Rafales will carry the French SCALP deep-strike cruise missile.

This stealth weapon has the ability to strike hardened and protected targets deep inside hostile territory from stand-off ranges -- without the need for the Rafale to enter hostile airspace, which could be heavily defended with air defence missiles.

The SCALP has the capability to create havoc at the target end due to its powerful tandem warhead and multiple detonation modes.

HAMMER missile

Considering the situation in Ladakh with China, the IAF has also directed emergency procurement of the HAMMER air-to-ground missile with a range of about 60 Kms.

Hammer (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) is a precision-guided missile developed by French defence major Safran.

'Buddy-buddy' refueling

The Rafale fighter jets are equipped with 'buddy-buddy' refueling that also one aircraft to lend its fuel to another while still in flight.

India-specific modifications

Besides the missile systems, the Rafale jets will come with various India-specific modifications, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low-band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others

The IAF has already completed preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots, to welcome the fighter aircraft.

The second squadron of Rafale will be stationed at Hasimara base in West Bengal.

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