Why in News:
- The Indian Air Force (IAF) operationalised its second Rafale fighter squadron by formally inducting jets into the No. 101 Squadron at Air Force Station Hasimara in West Bengal.
- The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter that can operate from either an aircraft carrier or a land base.
- The Rafale is a multi-mission fighter that can perform air dominance, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence tasks.
- Rafale fighters are “omnirole” fighters that can perform numerous mission types at the same time.
- The Rafale jets will constitute a significant addition to India’s MMCA (Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft) fleet.
- The most significant benefit of the Rafale is its ability to deliver nuclear missiles.
Weapons on board
- i) Meteor
- The Meteor is the game-changing missile aboard the Rafale.
- The Meteor is a very long-range rocket and ram-jet powered air-to-air missile developed by the European company MBDA.
- With a range of nearly 120 kilometres, its inclusion with the Rafale armament system represents a paradigm leap in air-to-air warfare.
- It means that an Indian Rafale fighter will be able to shoot down an enemy plane from more than 100 kilometres afar without even leaving Indian airspace.
- Meteor possesses a no-escape zone that is many times larger than any other air-to-air missile, according to MBDA.
- ii) Scalp
- The Scalp long-range air-to-ground stand-off cruise missile, which weighs 1,300 kg and is 5.1 metres long, may be carried on the Rafale in either a single missile or two missile configuration.
- The missile has a 600-kilometer range and is noted for its precision. The Rafale will not have to cross the Indian airspace to hit a target that is about 600 km in enemy territory.
- It’s a strategic weapon with penetration, impact, and airburst capabilities.
iii) The Rafale will also be equipped with the Mica air-to-air missiles.
- iv) The IAF plans to further integrate the BrahMos NG (‘NG’ – Next Generation – lighter and sleeker version of BrahMos – max. speed of 3.5 mach) missiles with the Rafale when it is finally made by the Indo-Russian joint venture.
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