What Is So Special About Rafale Fighter Jet?
- Ahead of the formal handing over of the first Rafale fighter to India on October 8, the IAF has “technically accepted” the jet at the Bordeaux manufacturing facility of Dassault Aviation in France. The twin-seat jet has the tail number “RB-001” to mark the role played by IAF chief-designate Air Marshal R K S Bhadauria in finalizing the Rs 59,000 crore deal in September 2016.
- The multi-role fighter was accepted by a team led by deputy chief Air Marshal V R Chaudhari, who also flew in the plane for about an hour. Defence minister Rajnath Singh will be in France for the official induction ceremony on October 8, which will also include his French counterpart.
- The first four Rafale jets will actually touch down in Ambala only in May next year after training of the “main” induction team of around 10 pilots, 10 flight engineers and 40 technicians in France. All the 36 jets – eight of them twin-seaters – will be delivered by April 2022.
- IAF has resurrected its 17 `Golden Arrows’ Squadron at Ambala for the first 18 Rafale jets meant for the western front with Pakistan. The 101 “Falcons” Squadron, in turn, will have the next 18 jets based at Hasimara (West Bengal) to cater for China.
- The 13 India-Specific Enhancements (ISEs) or upgrade on the 36 jets will, however, become fully operational only by September-October 2022 because they will require another six months to undergo “software certification” after all of them have arrived in India.
- India in September 2016 inked a direct deal with the French government to purchase 36 new Rafale fighter jets in a 7.87 billion euro deal that is likely to bring major work to the Indian private sector in terms of offsets under the make in India policy.
- The Rafale deal for 36 jets includes over 3 billion euros of work for the Indian industry over the next 7-8 years according to top defence ministry officials. "This has a huge potential to develop direct and indirect employment opportunities in India," the official said. Besides high end technology like engine know-how, major structural assembly is also likely in India, besides a chunk of avionics work.
- India will also get latest weapons like the Meteor and Scalp missiles as part of the contract, besides a 5 year support package that assures high availability of the fighter. India will pay a 15 % advance and deliveries are to start in three years.
- The deal was inked after negotiations that last close to 18 months, with Indian negotiators finally bringing down the price by 328 million euros.
- In November 2017, Congress alleged a 'huge scam’ in Rafale fighter jets deal. Saying that the contract violated the procurement procedure, the Congress party blamed the government for promoting of 'crony capitalist friends’ at the cost of a defence public sector unit, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
- Congress alleged that the deal signed with France does not cater for technology transfer and has caused an 'insurmountable' loss to the exchequer. The Rafale deal has a 50 percent offset clause, a large part of which is to be executed by a joint venture company of the Anil Ambani owned Reliance Defence.
India Specific enhancements
- The Rafale deal caters to specific Indian air force needs. The fighter jet will be modified by France to meet the following:
- Helmet mounted sights and targeting system to give the pilots lightening quick ability to shoot off weapons.
- Ability to taken off from high altitude airbases like Leh on a 'cold start' - for quick reaction deployment
- A radar warning receiver to identify hostile tracking systems
- A towed decoy system to thwart incoming missile attacks
- French industrial support for fighter for 50 years
- VITAL Stats
- 7.87 billion Euro: Deal cost. This includes weapon systems, five year support, training, infrastructure and warranties. 15% to be paid in advance.
- 91.7 million euros: as per contract, if other costs like weapons, training etc not counted, per unit price of single seat Rafale is 91.7 million euros
- 75 % availability: French side will ensure that at any given point, at least 75 percent of the fleet is combat worthy. Failing which, heavy penalities to be invoked.
- 67 months delivery: All aircraft ordered to be delivered within 67 months with first one coming in by 36 months
- 50% offsets: Indian industry to get major boost as French side will invest half of deal value in Make in India products or technology transfer. Indian Partners to be firmed up within a year.
- 328 million Euros: Saved by negotiation efforts by the Indian side on the Rafale deal, according to defence ministry sources
- 28/8: according to deal, India to get 28 single seater jets and 8 twin seaters for training.
BEST VS LATEST
- The Rafale will be India's most capable fighter aircraft. These, according to defence ministry officials, are the major capability differences it will make compared to the current best - the SU 30 MKI.
- 1.5 times of Su 30
- Range 780-1055 km vs 400-550 of Su 30
- 5 sorties per 24 hours against 3 by Su 30
- 75% availability against 55% of Su 30
- WEAPONS: India has managed to negotiate the acquisition of the latest weapons package for the Rafale. These are the new weapons, beyond the standard package.
- SCALP: a precision long range ground attack missile that can take out targets with extreme accuracy. Has a range of 300 km, capped by the missile technology control regime.
- METEOR: a beyond visual range air to air missile that is possibly the best in its class. Can take out enemy aircraft at range of over 100 km.
- MICA air-to-air “Beyond Visual Range” (BVR) interception, combat and self-defence missiles, in their IR (heat-seeking) and EM (active radar homing) The MICA can be used within visual range (WVR) and beyond visual range (BVR).