Rafale fighter jets
- The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base.
- Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is designed to carry out air dominance, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.
- The jets are referred to as an “omnirole” combat aircraft by Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer.
- The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004.
- The Rafale jets intended for India are expected to come with certain bespoke (made for a particular customer or user) modifications for the IAF and have been awaited as a crucial enhancement to India’s Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft (MMCA) fleet.
- The biggest advantage of Rafale is that it is capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Weapons on board
- The game-changing missile on-board the Rafale is the Meteor.
- Manufactured by European firm MBDA, the Meteor is a very long-range rocket and ram-jet powered air-to-air missile.
- Its integration into the Rafale weapon system brings about a paradigm shift in air-to-air affairs since it has a range of over 120 km.
- It means an Indian Rafale jet will be able to shoot down an enemy aircraft over 100 km away without even crossing the Indian air space.
- According to MBDA, Meteor has a no-escape zone many times greater than any other air-to-air missile.
- Another key missile that is on-board the Rafale is the Scalp long-range air-to-ground stand-off cruise missile.
- Weighing 1,300 kg, the 5.1 metre-long Scalp can be carried in either one missile or two missiles configuration on the Rafale.
- The missile has a 600-km range and is known 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 is a strategic weapon that can be used in penetration, impact or airburst modes.
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.
- In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition.
- The deal has a 50% offset clause as part of which French companies in the deal are setting up facilities in India and tying up with local companies to execute the obligations.
- Dassault Reliance JV (DRAL) production facility in Nagpur has started functioning while Thales already has a presence in Nagpur.
- Engine maker Safran is set to inaugurate its facility in Hyderabad.
- Defence Minister Rajnath Singh formally received the first Rafale fighter jet built for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in France on 8 October, 2019.
Rafale squadron in India
- The IAF recently resurrected the 17 Squadron ‘Golden arrows’ at Air Force station Ambala which will operate the first squadron of Rafale fighter jets once they arrive in India.
- The second Rafale squadron would be based at the Hasimara base in West Bengal.
Why in News?
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is scheduled to induct the first batch of five Rafale fighter jets from France at the Air Force Station, Ambala, on July 29, subject to weather conditions.
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