It was a proud moment for us all when the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets touched down at the Ambala Air Force base in Haryana. The induction of Rafale jets definitely increases the might of the Air Force, being one of the finest fighter jets in the world and offers a potent package of avionics, weapons system and radar systems. The coming of Rafale fighter jets in India has definitely piqued the curiosity of many of us, so we thought why not tell you more about this incredible fighter. So, here's everything you need to know about the newly inducted Rafale fighter jets in the Indian Air Force. To begin with, the word 'Rafale' literally means a gust of wind! So, fair winds to the new fighter jets!
The Dassault Rafale is a French fighter jet, manufactured by Dassault Aviation, and has seen aerial combat in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Mali and Libya. It is a 4.5 generation fighter jet and is an 'omnirole' aircraft, which means it can take on multiple missions on a single flight. The Rafale is a twin-jet aircraft, powered by two M88-2 engines. Each engine is capable of producing a thrust of 7.5 tonnes or 16,850 pound-force of thrust (with the afterburners engaged). It has a top speed of 2,222 kmph or Mach 1.8, which means the fighter jet can fly at 1.8 times the speed of sound. The Rafale jet has a maximum take-off weight of 24.5 tonnes and can carry a total of 11.4 tonnes of fuel in its internal tanks and external drop tanks. With three drop tanks, the Rafale has a ferry range of 3,700 km.
|Max Speed||2,222 kmph|
|Ferry Range||3,700 km|
|Landing Ground Run||450 metres|
|Empty Weight||10 tonnes|
|Max Take-Off Weight||24.5 tonnes|
|External Load||9.5 tonnes|
|Fuel Capacity||11.4 tonnes|
|Service Ceiling||50,000 feet|
Just to give you an idea of how powerful the Rafale is, let us compare it with the Bugatti Chiron, one of the fastest production cars in the world. The Bugatti Chiron gets an 8-litre W16 engine, which is two V8s spliced together and it makes a total of 1,479 bhp at 6,700 rpm and the peak torque output is rated at 1,600 Nm coming in between 2,000 - 6,000 rpm. The top speed of the Bugatti Chiron is 420 kmph, perhaps 1/5th of the top speed of the Rafale fighter jet. While the Bugatti does get a rather powerful engine by car standards, it is no match for the two M88-2 engines on the Rafale.
Avionics and Weaponry
This is where things become really interesting! The Rafale has a slew of advanced and high tech weapons system which makes it suitable for various combat roles such as air defence, deep-lying strike missions, electronic warfare and ground support. The Rafale has 14 storage stations for weapons.
One of the most important weapons in its armoury is the Meteor air-to-air missile. It is a BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile) unit, which has a beyond visual range of 100 km and can fly at Mach 4, meaning it can shoot down the enemy without the Rafale having to cross Indian airspace. It has a no escape kill distance of 120 km. It is one of the most advanced missile systems in the world. Up next is the SCALP long-range cruise missile that has a range of 600 km and can be used in various modes such as ground penetration, airburst or impact. It is an air-to-ground missile worth ₹ 40 crore. Then, you have the French-made HAMMER (Highly Agile Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range) precision-guided air-to-ground missile system that was procured on an emergency basis amid tensions with China. It can also be fitted with a guidance kit and a range extender kit and used against bunkers and other fortified enemy positions on ground. Other weapons systems on the new Rafale fighter jet include MICA air-to-air missiles and twin gun-pods and a 30 mm cannon on board.
In terms of avionics, the Rafale fighter jet is fitted with RBE2 active electronically scanned radar that offers high levels of situational awareness and is also able to track multiple targets coming towards the aircraft. The other important bit is the 'front sector optronics' (FSO) system, which makes the Rafale near invisible to enemy radars and prevent the aircraft's radar from being jammed as well. The Rafale also comes fitted with a Spectra electronic warfare suite that avoids the jet being detected from long range and nullifies infrared, electro-magnetic and laser threats.
The Rafale fighter jet gets about 13 India-specific enhancements such as helmet mounted display from Israel and the technology to start and take-off in high altitude areas. All these enhancements will be integrated in all Rafales once India takes the delivery of all 36 units by 2022.
The single seater Rafale fighter jet without any extra fittings, cost about 91 million Euros while the twin-seater version is priced at 94 million Euros. In total, the government of India struck a deal with Dassault for an amount of 7.878 billion Euros for all 36 units.