Why The 36 Rafale Meant For India Are The Most Potent In The World
A lot has been written and spoken about the 7.878 Billion Euros deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets that can even fire strategic weapons.
Keeping politics apart, the fact is that the IAF desperately needs fighters as it stares at a bleak future.
The 36 Rafale fighter jets are not sufficient and the IAF will need much more of the MMRCA and lightweight kind to keep its upper hand over Pakistan and to be prepared for a two-front war.
A lot has been written and spoken about the 7.878 Billion Euros deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets that can even fire strategic weapons. It has been drawn into a political slugfest with both opposition, led by Congress and the ruling NDA government led by BJP indulging in a war of words almost every day.
In between all this, the IAF had been maintaining a steady silence. However, it chose to break its silence this week and surprisingly swayed into the controversy. So even while the government said the 36 Rafale fighters were 9 and 20 percent cheaper than UPA deal (something which never saw the light of the day), a senior IAF officer came up with the figure of it being 40 percent cheaper.
Since a lot has been speculated about the pricing, here is the break up:
The ‘vanilla price’ (just the aircraft alone) will cost about 91 million Euros each for a single seater and about 94 million Euros for a two-seater trainer aircraft which works out to be about 3.42 billion Euros. The armaments cost about 710 million Euros while Indian specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet-mounted displays, will cost 1,700 million Euros.
Associate supplies for the 36 fighter jets will cost about 1,800 million Euros while performance-based logistics will cost about 353 million Euros.
Keeping politics apart, the fact is that the IAF desperately needs fighters as it stares at a bleak future. The 36 Rafale fighter jets are not sufficient and the IAF will need much more of the MMRCA and lightweight kind to keep its upper hand over Pakistan and to be prepared for a two-front war.
The 36 Rafale fighter jets being procured by India is the most potent Rafale to be manufactured ever. Yes, that is true. Even the French Air Force will have to wait before it gets its hand on a similar configuration.
The Indian Rafale comes with 13 India specific enhancements and includes Israeli helmet-mounted displays, ability to start at cold bases like Leh, better radar, better detection and survival features among others.
The hottest item on the Rafale will be the Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km that will change the air to air combat dynamics in this region. Even the French Air Force do not have this missile because this is not in operation.
Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while staying within India’s territorial boundary. Pakistan at present has only a BVR with 80 km range.
During the Kargil war, India had used a BVR of 50 km range while Pakistan had none. However, Pakistan later acquired 80-km-range BVR, but now with ‘Meteor’, the balance of power in the airspace has again tilted in India’s favour.
Another important missile is the tried and tested ‘Scalp’, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km. Both missiles have a 2 metres precision which means that a target can be hit with high precision.
The French will also help India deploy the in-development BrahMos NG missile in either a twin or single weapon load-out when the system is ready from 2021.
The Indian Rafale will also come equipped with SPECTRA electronic warfare system, billed as the ‘cornerstone of the Rafale’s outstanding survivability against the latest airborne and ground threats’.
Another first for India will be the RBE 2 AESA radar on the Rafale, IAF’s first default active electronically scanned array combat radar on an Indian fighter jet.
Sources say that the Rafale offered in 2015 is much different from the one offered in 2007 since a lot of changes has taken place in the last one decade.
They say that the Indian Rafale will be a modified version of the F3R standard. The F3R Rafale is centered around integration of the Meteor, the Thales TALIOS laser designator pod and the laser homing version of Sagem’s AASM Hammer air-to-surface munition.
However, the IAF has chosen to integrate the Israeli litening pod on the Rafale for sensor commonality across platforms as it had in 2016 ordered 164 of them for its Su-30 and MiG-29 fleet. However, IAF has ‘optioned’ the TALIOS pod for a possible future integration.
Similarly, IAF has optioned the AASM Hammer System for a possible induction once Rafale deliveries begin which will be fitted with Israeli Spice guidance kits. Dassault will have to ensure that at least 75 percent of the entire fleet remains operational at any given time. This warranty is signed for the first five years.
Three other concessions include free training for 10 IAF personnel, including three pilots besides additional guarantee for 60 hours of usage of training aircraft for Indian pilots and six months of free weapons storage without charge (in case the Indian infrastructure is not ready for storing the weapons).