The Next Generation Game Changer Defence Pawn of India: Rafael

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France on Tuesday, 28 July, 2020 delivered the first batch of the 36 Rafael fighter jets to India as part of the $8.78 billion (Rs 59,000 crore) deal signed in 2016. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh who’s on a three-day visit to France received the first Rafael aircraft at Dassault Aviation’s facility in Merignac and even took a sortie on it. The induction of Rafael aircraft in the Indian Air Force has immensely added to India’s air power, making it one of the four countries, besides France, Egypt and Qatar, to possess the next-gen fighter jet. The first batch of Rafael will be station in Ambala with Vintage 17 Squadron, while the second batch will be stationed at Hasimara in West Bengal. Speaking of which, the first batch of Rafael is soon to land on the ground of Ambala today. These fighter jets took off from Merignac airbase in the French port city of Bordeaux and covered around thousands of miles 7,000 km to be precise, before arriving at the Ambala Air Force Base.

  • Why is Rafael a, ‘Game Changer’?

In the backdrop of the 26 February dogfight between IAF and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), PM Modi said that the outcome of the aerial battle would have been “something different” if India had Rafael jets. And that’s was the hint! Yes, that right. Only after a few months, India signed a deal with France of $8.78 billion (Rs 59,000 crore) for 36 Rafael Fighter Jets to upgrade the arms of India.

IAF sources also insisted regarding the matter that Pakistan would not have even attempted such a strike had the Rafael’s been inducted earlier. “Right now, we have to deploy two Su30 MKI for one F-16 of the PAF. The tables will turn now. PAF will have to deploy two F16s to counter one Rafael. This is because Rafael not only outguns them but also has amazing beyond the visual range air to capability”.

  • How the Rafael deal was sealed:

Negotiations for MMRCA was already stuck by the time the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014. It was around the time in January 2015 when India first approached the French side to know if a government-to-government deal could be worked out for a shorter number of planes if bought off the shelf. Hectic talks soon took place between the governments of both the nation and Dassault Aviation. It was when Prime Minister Modi travelled to Paris in April 2015 to stamp the seal of ‘deal’ after which he announced a mega plan to buy 36 Rafael jets in fly-away conditions. It took about 18 months for the deal to finally be sealed.

  • Speculating the beasts: Rafael

The fully versatile Rafael can carry out about all combat aviation missions, including air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence. Its ‘delta wings’ makes it far more superior to its competitors due to its extremely stable and supersonic speed. The aircraft’s advanced engine is capable of allowing the throttle to shift from combat to idle power in less than three seconds. It can jam enemy radars, detect targets anywhere including sea, ground and air. Other superior capabilities of Rafael include close air support, dynamic targeting, air-to-ground precision strike, anti-ship attack capability and buddy-buddy refuelling.

Rafael can attain a maximum speed of Mach 1.8/750 kt (2,222.6km per hour) and can climb to up to 50,000 ft. Though Rafael can fly up to a range of 3,700 km, it can be refuelled mid-air. The 15.27 metre long aircraft has a wing length of 10.8 metres each. The aircraft is superior to Sukhoi 30 MK1 in terms of carrying ammunition. While Sukhoi 30 MKI can carry ammunition up to 8,000 kg, Rafael can easily carry bombs up to 9,500 kg.

  • The gist:

The Rafael’s for India is meant to be one of the most potent jets that have been made ever since it comes with 13 India specific enhancements, including Israeli helmet-mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infra-red search and tracking systems among others.