Dangerous facts about Rafale

  • The French-made Rafale fighter is a high-precision medium-sized multi-role fighter. It is said that this is one of the most modern 4.5-generation aircraft. It has the ability to carry multiple weapons and deliver them accurately. The construction of the Rafale fighter can ensure the survivability of the airborne system itself.
  • The Rafale has two engines, and each wet spot can carry three 2000-liter tanks. The fighter is equipped with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar with a range of more than 350 kilometers. The Rafale fighter has a low-shooting ability. Rafale also has an integrated electronic warfare (EW) system.
  • The Rafale can carry up to 6 air-to-air missiles (AAM) and 6 expert bombs. Rafale will be integrated with MBDA Meteor BVRAAM, beyond line-of-sight air-to-air missiles and SCALP air-to-air missile ground missiles. BrahMos NG missiles can also be integrated on it.
  • Rafale has air-to-air refueling capabilities.

It can refuel another aircraft in buddy mode. The Rafale for IAF has been manufactured based on India Specific Enhancements

  • The Rafale fighter jets have several India-specific modifications. These include
    • Israeli helmet-mounted displays,
    • Low band jammers,
    • Radar warning receivers,
    • Infra-red search,
    • Tracking systems,
    • 10-hour flight data recording among others.
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh exuded confidence that the aircraft, which means ‘aandhi’ in Hindi or gust of wind, will live up to its name. The Defence Minister said that a large number of IAF officers and airmen are being trained in France for flying, maintenance support and logistics for handling Rafale.
  • All Rafale fighter jets are expected to arrive by 2022
  • India is the fourth country, after Egypt, France, and Qatar, to bolster its fleet with the Rafale fighter jets. Rafale is also the second French fighter, Indian Air Force will have in its fleet. IAF already has Mirage 2000 which is also French-made.
  • 5 Rafale jets landed in Ambala. Rafale aircraft would certainly provide the potent air defence that IAF required. He termed Rafale aircraft “by far the most potent platform for India’s air defence”.

Aerial refueling

Aerial refueling, also referred to as air refueling, in-flight refueling (IFR), air-to-air refueling (AAR), and tanking, is the process of transferring aviation fuel from one military aircraft (the tanker) to another (the receiver) during flight. The two main refueling systems are probe-and-drogue, which is simpler to adapt to existing aircraft, and the flying boom, which offers faster fuel transfer, but requires a dedicated boom operator station.

The 5 Rafale fighter aircraft en route to India were refuelled mid-air. Pictures of the refuelling exercise were taken at a height of 30,000 feet. The Indian Air Force ‘appreciated the support’ provided by the French Air Force for the Rafale journey. France used an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport to refuel the Rafale jets. The aircraft had left for India on July 27 with a stopover in the United Arab Emirates. While France provided fuel support in the first leg of the journey, IAF’s Ilyushin-78s will take over for the second leg. This is the first batch of Rafales being delivered to India after a deal was finalised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his then French counterpart Francois Hollande in 2015. India has bought 36 Rafale jets for Rs 59,000 crore. They will be part of the IAF’s No. 17 squadron, the ‘Golden Arrows’.

India-specific modifications in Rafale fighter jets

  • Enhanced M88 Engine:
    • The engine has been modified to allow the Rafale to operate in a multitude of extreme operational environments ranging from high altitudes to deserts. Engine condition monitoring sensors are being attached to maintain the Rafale’s overall engine health.
  • Doppler Weather Radar:
    • The radar located at the nose of the fighter aircraft the Doppler Weather radar is capable of letting the pilot know about the weather ahead
  • Indian Regional Navigation Satellite With SIGMA:
    • The indigenous satellite system is being made compatible with the French-designed fighter platform
  • Extra Filtered Oxygen Generation:
    • This enhancement is designed to filter out particulate matter, found in high altitude. The onboard oxygen generation system will serve to reduce the risk of hypoxia to fighter pilots, which is a result of lowering levels of oxygen supply ot the pilot.
  • Spice 1000 Smart Bomb:
  • The Israeli designed SPICE smart missiles are to be integrated into the Rafales aerial panel.
  • Quad Pack Ejectors
  • X Gaurd Fibre Optic Towed Decoy

This decoy system is designed to counter incoming enemy surface to air missiles (SAM’s) and air to air missiles (AAM’s)

Source from ssbcrack

Indiaspecific enhancements include,

  • helmet-mounted sight,
  • radar warning receivers,
  • flight data recorders with enough storage for 10 hours of data,
  • infrared search and track systems,
  • jammers and cold engine start capability to operate from high-altitude bases.

Source from Hindustantimes.

Fighter jets deadlier than Rafale

  1. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor – The F-22 raptor is the best fighter jets in the world developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing is a singler seat, twin engine and fifth generation fighter aircraft ( Rafale is a 4.5 G aircraft ). It has stealth technology. which is the most latest and advanced avionics. The F-22 cannot be exported from the UNITED STATES under the US federal laws.

Source : Google

2.Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightening II – It is again developed by US. Also a 5th generation aircraft.

3. Sukhoi-57- Su-57 is intented to be the first modern fighter jet to use stealth technology in the Russian military service. It is considered to be the cheapest among all the fighter aircraft .

Rafale is big threat for Pakistan

RBE2 LPI (Low probability of intercept) AESA Radar with 838 TR modules is superior to anything Pakistani or Substandard Chinese radars.

Meteor Ramjet BVR missiles

This missile is having the highest range among all air to air missiles. Heavier Russian missiles are for awacs and slow transport aircraft.

Stealthy scalp missile with 600km standoff range for hitting ground targets. It can take nuclear payload.

ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air To Air Missile) IR Guided high off boresight missile

Cued by the Targo helmet-mounted display (HMD)

Hammer Guided munition (Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range) is a rocket-enabled air to ground precision missile that has range of 60 km perfectly suited for high altitude.

Neuron UCAV can be controlled by Rafale

It is a stealthy autonomous ucav that can function in medium- to high-threat combat zones. A loyal wingman for the Rafale.

Mica Air to Air missile

MBDA MICA is an anti-air multi-target, all weather, fire-and-forget short and medium-range missile system.

Spectra Electronic Warfare suite

SPECTRA integrated electronic warfare suite provides long-range detection, identification and accurate localisation of infrared homing, radio frequency and laser threats. The system incorporates radar warning receiver, laser warning and Missile Approach Warning for threat detection plus a phased array radar jammer and a decoy dispenser for threat countering. It also includes a dedicated management unit for data fusion and reaction decision.

Rafale deal good for India

In September 2016, India has a deal with the French government to purchase 36 Rafale jets at a cost of around Rs. 58,000 crore. In this deal, we get 28 single-seater jets and 8 twin seaters for training.

In the backdrop of the 26 February dogfight between IAF and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), PM Modi had earlier said the outcome of the aerial battle would have been “something different” if India had Rafale jets.

Rafale is one of the finest fighters in the world. Rafale is a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) that is said to boost India’s air dominance exponentially, currently safeguard by fighter jets like Russia made Sukhoi Su-30 MKI and MiG 29, along with French Mirage- 2000 and indigenously built HAL Tejas.

Rafale is a modern fighter jet known for its agility and speed. It is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons and missiles. It is powered by two SNECMA M88 engines, each capable of providing up to 50 kilonewtons of dry thrust and 75 kilonewtons with afterburners. With a range of 3,700 km and a maximum speed of 1389 km/h. The landing ground run is 450 metres without drag-chute. It is 15.27 metres long and a wingspan of 10.80 metres.

The empty weight of Rafale is about 10 tonne and the maximum take-off weight of 24.5 tonnes. It is fitted with 14 hardpoints and five of these are capable of drop tanks and heavy ordnance. The biggest advantage of Rafale is that it is capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Currently, Mirages are the designated aircraft for nuclear weapons.

The game-changing missile onboard 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. Rafale weapon system brings about a paradigm shift in air-to-air affairs. It will be able to take out enemy aircraft at a range of over 100 km without even crossing the Indian air space. It has no escape zone of over 60 km.

Another key missile is Scalp long-range air to ground standoff cruise missile. It will also be equipped with Mica air-to-air missiles. The IAF plans to further integrate the BrahMos NG missiles with the Rafale when it is finally made by the Indo-Russian joint venture.

France uses Thales TALIOS laser designator pod but Indian Rafale comes with an Israeli Litening pod for sensor commonality. Instead of standard Sagems’s AASM Hammer air to surface munition, it will be integrated with Spice guidance kits.

Rafale has a Front Sector Optonics(FSO) system, which is immune to radar jamming while operating in optronic wavelengths and Spectra-integrated electronic warfare suite that provides long-range detection, identification, and localization of infrared, electromagnetic and laser threats.

It has the ability to take off from high altitudes airbases like Leh on a cold start for quick reaction deployment.

It comes with 13 Indian specific enhancements, including Israeli mounted displays, radar warning receivers, low band jammers, 10-hour flight data recording, infrared-red search, and tracking systems among others.

For almost two decades, the air force has been outgunned when it comes to long-range weapons and sensors by the Pakistani air force. Officials admit that for each Pakistani F 16 in the air, two Su 30MKI jets have to be scrambled because of the American origin jets superior radar and missiles. The Rafale will reverse this and give IAF the decisive edge with better sensors and weapons. Each Rafale in the air would require at least two F 16s for a counter challenge. Combined with the upcoming deliveries of the S 400 air defense system next year, it will greatly enhance Indian air superiority in the region. Combined, both systems will give India the ability to carry out airstrikes at will within Pakistan as a means to counter-terror attacks.

Comparison with Su- 30 MKI:

  • Loitering Capability: 1.5 times of Su 30MKI
  • Range 780-1055 km vs 400-500 of Su 30MKI
  • 5 sorties per 24 hours against 3 by Su 30 MKI ( A sortie is a combat mission of an individual aircraft, starting when the aircraft takes off.)

RB’ on the trainer aircraft’s tail stands for the initials of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria, the IAF chief and the single-seater comes with initial of ‘BS’ which, stands for former IAF Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa.

Rafale Verse F16

Specifications:-

In a dog-fight, advantage lies with one who targets the enemy first. And Radar helps in doing just that. In F16, Lockheed Martin has integrated technologies derived from the F-22 and F-35 including the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) APG-83 radar. Its maximum engagement range is 20 targets at 84 kms.

Rafale on the other hand is fitted with 4 key technologies:

  1. A multi-directional radar which can detect 40 targets at the same time in a range of over 100 kms.
  2. An undetectable passive radar sensor which is an extremely precise optical camera.
  3. Recognisance pod: a massive digital camera which can take photos at any speed with a precision of 10 cms.
  4. And finally, Spectra, an integrated defence aid system which can jam or counter-jam enemy radar signals, give missile-approach warnings and send out decoy signals in case an enemy missile gets too close to the Rafale.

Decoy signal is an electromagnetic pulse sent from the rear of the plane which de-roots enemy missile.

Rafale is a 4.5th generation aircraft whereas the F-16 is 4th generation aircraft.

After going through the specifications it is clear that the Rafale is more on the advantageous side but it clearly shows that the dogfight between the two flying machines would be tough. But it also depends on the skill of the pilots which in turn depends on his country’s training capability. If the pilot is skilful then he can shoot down a more advanced jet with a less advanced jet, for instance the statements released by Indian AirForce(IAF)said that F-16 of the Pakistan AirForce(PAF), was shot down by a 3.5th generation Mig-21 BISON flown by IAF’s pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in march 2019

Conclusion:The dogfight Rafale and F-16 will be tough but the result also depends on the skills of the pilots.

About F-16: The F-16 is the world’s most successful, war-proven fourth-generation multirole fighter Jet. Its production was started by the USA in 1973. There are more than 4600 units of this single-engine aircraft (F-16) have been built and currently, 3000 units are still in service. Today, it is being used in 25 countries. Its speed is 2400 km per hour and the service duration is 12000 hours.

About Rafael:- Rafael is a multilayer fighter aircraft with two engines. This 4.5th generation fighter aircraft is made by the French company Dassault Aviation. Rafale can also be used for anti-nuclear strikes, anti-ship strikes, and in-depth operations. Its maximum speed is 2222 km/hour at high altitude.

Source from jagranjosh

Why India wants Rafale

Rafale can replace 7 different types of aircraft. That means the Rafale can undertake 7 different kind of missions which earlier required required 7 different kind of aircraft. Few of these missions can be undertaken in a single sortie. That’s why the Rafale is called Omni-role fighter.

Rafale would “boost” India’s air power if it offers something on top of what we have in terms of our best fighter Su-30MKI. Here are few things in consideration:

Radar Cross Section:

Rafale is a 4th generation fighter which means it is ahead of usual 4th generation fighter but is not a fully operational 5th generation fighter. It’s design incorporates stealth characteristics by using RAM (radar absorbing materials).

Stealth design features also include S-shaped engine inlets, serrated edges and a channel exhaust cooling scheme designed to reduce infrared signature. All These gives the Rafale a radar cross section between 0.1 – 1.0 square meters which is more than 10 times lower than a Su-30MKI which has a cross section of 4 square meter from the front & 21 square meter from the top/bottom.

Pic: Size comparison between Rafale & Su-30MKI.

That means while the Rafale can track & hunt aircraft like the Pakistani F-16 & JF-17 & the Chinese J-11 & J-16, they can’t see the Rafale unless it comes very near to them. Thus Rafale can fire from a greater & safer distance which brings me to my next point.

Air to Air armament:

All versions of the Rafale are equipped with what is internationally known as the best beyond visual range air to air missile (BVRAAM) of the world, the Meteor Missile. It has range of over hundred 100 km but what makes it different is the No escape zone (NEZ) which is of 60 km. That means if fired within 60 km of the target the missile will hit the target for sure. Usually the NEZ for contemporary missiles is of 20–25 km only.

Usually from a longer range the hit probability of single/dual pulse rocket motors based BVR missiles is 30–40 %. In case of Meteor missile this goes to as high as 60%.

The Meteor achieves this essentially because of its propulsion system. It uses a solid-fueled ramjet motor which allows the missile to cruise at a speed of over Mach 4 and provides the missile with thrust and mid-way acceleration to target intercept. This Throttle Ducted Rocket (TDR) motor is a pinnacle of missile technology something that even India is developing as the Astra Mk3 in the form of SFDR (solid fuel ducted ramjet).

Pic: Astra Mk3 – SFDR based missile. Ground based test.

Also the missile & the aircraft “talk” to each other. A two-way datalink enables the launch aircraft to provide mid-course target updates or re-targeting. Also the MICA-IR/EF short range missiles are a game changer when the battle comes to within visual range (WVR).

Currently the best of the line Su-30MKI uses the R-77 & RVV-AE (pic above) which are very decent missiles with 110 km range but they have single impulse rocket motor. Which means the rocket provides thrust in a short burst & the missile is propelled through it’s entire flight with the momentum only. Thus it bleeds energy rapidly in the end game if the target maneuvers rapidly.

Air to Ground armament:

Rafale comes with two major air to ground weapons:

  • SCALPE-EG missile: It is stand-off long range cruise missile capable of hitting targets at 560 km. Now it’s not an ordinary cruise missile. Just like the aircraft the missile is also a stealth missile. It cannot be detected easily unless it comes very close to the target, at which point the target wont have anywhere to escape. Also thanks to such a huge range targets can be hit from a far away distance without having to invade the enemy’s surface to air defence bubbles.
  • HAMMER missile: This is a bomb converted missile more optimised to attack ground targets in a shorter range where the target is low value & doesn’t necessitate firing a costly missile such as the SCALPE-EG. With a 50-70 km range, Rafale can carry 6 of these in one sortie. The Hammer being a precision guided weapon can hits target accurately even if they are in a mountainous terrain.

Currently the Sukhoi carries SPICE munition which is comparable to HAMMER albeit being more costly. The Su-30MKI can also fire the Russian Kh-59 cruise missile but it is nowhere as advanced as the SCALPE-EG. With the integration of BrahMos in Su-30MKI, the land attack capabilities are recently enhanced in the 40 Su-30s being upgraded to carry the supersonic missile.

Electronic Warfare suite:

This feature alone can turn tables.

The Rafale is equipped with a full fledged elaborate electronic warfare suite called SPECTRA (Self-Protection Equipment Countering Threats to Rafale Aircraft). The system incorporates radar warning receiver, laser warning and Missile Approach Warning for threat detection plus a phased array radar jammer and a decoy dispenser for threat countering.

Thanks to the SPECTRA suite, the Rafale can operate in a high electronic jamming environment where the enemy radars are in a constant lookout for fighters. This is a proven system & had proven its worth during Rafale’s operation in the Middle east.

The Su-30MKI also has similar sub systems but there is no one to one comparison between the two. The Su-30MKI uses an Israeli Jammer, DRDO Tarang Radar warning receiver & similar mixture of equipment from different nations.

Carrying capacity:

Even after being a medium category aircraft, the Rafale carries more load than a Su-30MKI. The Rafale can carry almost 9.5 tons of external armament & fuel against 8 tons of Su-30MKI. The aircraft are seldom loaded in full capacity but this shows the thrust availability of the engines.

Also the Rafale is capable enough to perform nuclear strike & is one of the very few aircraft in our inventory to perform the aerial nuclear strike role. This is certainly welcome boost to the IAF as it reinforces the Nuclear Triad.

Availability:

According to the deal with Dassault, the company is responsible for maintenance & support of the aircraft in such a way that it is their responsibility to make at least 75% of the fleet available for flying at any given point of time throughout it’s service life.

I comparison, only 60% of the entire Su-30MKI fleet is ready for operations at any time. This is due to the radar which requires servicing every 150 hours of flight, the engines which requires overhaul at every 1000 hours & the titanium nozzle at every 500 hours. This increases the maintenance requirement of the Sukhoi fleet.

The Rafale’s fleet do not have these issues & most of the major servicing is carried out by Dassault which is another welcome boost for the IAF.

I think these points clear out as to why the Rafale is a “Game Changer” which brings a lot of boost to the capabilities of the IAF.

In my humble opinion, the IAF should go for 36 more Rafale & cancel the MRFA (aka MMRCA 2.0) deal. The follow on Rafale aircraft can use the same infrastructure, support equipment & training, thus reducing the costs & saving time.