IAF Rafale | Updates | World Defense

IAF Rafale | Updates

TomCat

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India received first shipment of spares and engines for upcoming Rafale Fighters

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The delivery of first batch of fighters is scheduled later this month.
 

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IAF ready for long haul amid row with China, to induct 5 Rafales on July 29
Last Updated: Jul 20, 2020, 04:15 PM IS


NEW DELHI: Indian Air Force is geared up for the long haul in the ongoing military confrontation with China, having already forward deployed fighters, helicopters and missile squadrons in Ladakh and elsewhere, even as it prepares to induct the first five omni-role Rafale jets later this month.

Ahead of the three twin-seat and two single-seat Rafales touching down at the Ambala airbase on July 29, IAF brass will brainstorm on the operational situation along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control, faster induction of the French-origin fighters and the "roadmap for the future" this week.

Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria will chair the commanders’ conference with chiefs of the seven IAF commands on July 22-23. "Much like the Army, IAF is also preparing for the months ahead. There is some disengagement between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh, but de-escalation and de-induction of the rival military build-ups are still a long way off," said
a source.

"There is a huge trust deficit. IAF will have to maintain its high operational readiness all along the LAC as an effective deterrence against any Chinese misadventure. Consequently, steps are being taken to ensure high serviceability of fighters and helicopters with proper logistics. Airpower, after all, can be decisive in any battle," he added.

Frontline Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage-2000, MiG-29 and Jaguar fighters as well as the latest Apache attack and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters were inducted into eastern Ladakh and other forward airbases after the border confrontation erupted in early-May.

Though IAF is grappling with just 30 fighter squadrons (16-18 jets in each), far below its "authorized strength" of 42, the force believes it enjoys a qualitative and quantitative combat edge over its Chinese rival along the LAC, as was earlier reported by TOI.

IAF will now get some additional muscle with the first five Rafales in the 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron. "The Rafales will take a few days to settle down. Most of the infrastructure is already in place at Ambala, while some of the IAF pilots and technicians trained in France have also
arrived there," said another source.

India has asked France to speed up delivery of the 36 Rafales under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked in September 2016. With a combat range of 780-km to 1,650-km depending on mission, the jets are armed with deadly weapons, advanced avionics, radars, electronic warfare systems and self-protection suites to ensure superior survivability in hostile contested airspaces.

While the Rafales will be combat-deployable when they arrive at Ambala, capable of firing the over 300-km range Scalp air-to-ground cruise missiles and other weapons, the integration of the 120-150 km range Meteor air-to-air missiles will take some time.

The 13 "India-specific enhancements" on the 36 Rafales, ranging from radar enhancements and Israeli helmet-mounted displays to low-band jammers and "cold start" capability from high-altitude regions, will also become fully operational only after "software certification" once all the jets arrive by early-2022.
 

TsAr

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So the inauguration has been delayed by 2 days and it could be further delayed due to weather conditions.
 

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India's First French-Built Rafale Fighters Have Finally Arrived
Eight years after first being selected, the arrival of the Rafales couldn't come soon enough as China and Pakistan weight heavily on Indian minds.
BY JAMIE HUNTERJULY 30, 2020

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Five brand-new Indian Air Force Dassault Rafale fighters recently touched down at Ambala Air Force Station in Haryana, India. The aircraft had departed from Dassault Aviation’s Bordeaux-Mérignac facility in France two days prior and made the over 5,000-mile journey supported by French tanker aircraft, with a stop-off at Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates.

The delivery had been planned for May 2020, but it was slightly delayed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Rafales and their seven pilots were greeted by the Indian Air Force chief-of-staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on July 29. Their arrival marked the first new residents for the base since India’s first Jaguar fighter-bombers were delivered there, coincidentally, on a similar date of July 27, 1979.

The Rafales are joining No. 17 Squadron “Golden Arrows” Squadron at Ambala. This is the first of at least two planned units that will fly the 36 Rafales that are currently on order as part of a €7.87-billion contract, or around $8.7 billion in U.S. dollars at the time, that was signed in 2016. All 36 aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2022 and they will be equally split with No. 101 “Falcons” Squadron, which will be re-established as the second Indian Rafale unit, based at Hashimara Air Force Station.

The Indian Air Force’s Rafales are built as F3-R-standard aircraft, but they come with some fascinating bespoke additions. A Dassault-owned, test-configured Rafale B with Indian-specific modifications started flying at Istres-Le Tubé in France in August 2018. It has progressively carried as many as 14 different Indian Air Force modifications to the baseline F3-R standardaircraft.

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Indian Rafales feature an improved version of the Thales Front Sector Optronics (FSO) system, which includes SAGEM infra-red search-and-track(IRST). They also feature the Elbit Display and Sight Helmet (DASH), a modified radar altimeter for flying in mountainous terrain, plus a cold start engine capability for high-altitude airfield operations. They also include software modifications for the RBE2 active electronically scanned array(AESA) radar.

A new low-band podded jammer and a towed radar decoy are also being added, according to Angad Singh, an analyst at the Observer Research Foundation, in New Delhi. The additional Indian modifications are being added under a concurrent design, modification, test, and certification schedule. “Everything will be integrated and certified around the time the last jets are ready for delivery [in April 2022]. At which point modification kits will be shipped out and all jets will be brought up to the same specification,” Singh added.

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The weapons package that accompanies the Rafale procurement includes the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), both infre-red and radar-guided versions of the MICA Multi-Mission Air-to-Air Missiles, and the Scalp long-range cruise missile. Shortly before the delivery of the first five aircraft, it was announced that the Indian Air Force would also procure the Sagem HAMMER (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range), also known as Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM), to meet an urgent operational requirement for the new Rafales amid a serious face-off against China. These weapons would be ideally suited to taking out buried targets in mountainous locations such as Eastern Ladakh.

The Indian Air Force previously planned to integrate the Rafael SPICE (Smart, Precise Impact, Cost-Effective) weapon on its Rafales in-country. According to Singh this weapon was selected on cost grounds, however, the pressing requirement has resulted in the Air Force opting for a ready-baked solution for the Rafale in HAMMER.

The Rafale F3 variant is now France's primary nuclear-capable combat aircraft. The Indian Rafales are rumored to be similarly capable, but India has never confirmed if that capability exists in any of its fighter aircraft.

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The arrival of the first Rafales was met with huge public interest amid public outcry over spikes in tension with Pakistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a hard line against Pakistan, with recent aerial skirmishes being leveraged to support the Rafale procurement. Modi himself said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s February 2019 shoot down when he was at the controls of an upgraded MiG-21 Bison would not have happened had he been flying a Rafale.

India’s long-running fighter procurement saga started under the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program, which dates back to 2004. The protracted effort has been run alongside the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project, which is a light strike fighter built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The Tejas is now entering service with a pair of squadrons after significant development delays.

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India’s MMRCA project was set against the replacement of its aging MiG-21 Bisons and MiG-27s, the latter of which was retired at the end of 2019. An initial competition included the Rafale, along with the Eurofighter, Gripen, F-16, MiG-35, and Super Hornet. India shortlisted the Rafale and the Eurofighter in April 2011, and after a long and exhaustive evaluation process, the French fighter was declared the winner on January 31 the following year. MMRCA was set as a 126-aircraft requirement, and it mandated that 108 jets should be built locally by HAL.

However, after several rounds of negotiations, the MMRCA program broke down in April 2015. Instead, India said it would purchase 36 Rafales under a government-to-government contract, but with no local production. A contract for 36 Rafales was signed in New Delhi on September 23, 2016, and it included a possible follow-on sale of 36 additional aircraft. The initial batch includes 28 single-seat Rafale EH models and eight two-seat DHs.

France has proved a reliable partner for India, having participated in a number of fighter projects, including the supply of Mirage 2000 fighters. Dassault is also currently supporting a comprehensive upgrade effort for India’s Mirages.

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First Indian Rafale to fly was DH serial RB008, which made its maiden flight on October 30, 2018, from Bordeaux-Mérignac. This aircraft is supporting the test and certification of the India-specific enhancements. Rafale DH serial RB001 followed by making its first flight at Mérignac on July 17, 2019. This two-seater was formally handed over to the Indian government on October 8, 2019, at an event hosted by Dassault chairman and CEO Eric Trappier with guests including India’s defense minister Shri Rajnath Singh.

With MMRCA abandoned and at least 36 Rafales on order, India has now launched yet another fighter tender. On April 6, 2018, it issued a Request for Information (RFI) for “approximately 110 aircraft,” roughly one quarter of which it said should be two-seaters. New Delhi specified that no more than 15% of the jets would be manufactured by the winning manufacturer, with the balance being built locally under the “Make in India” initiative.

The key points of the RFI include an openness for single and twin-engine jets, a requirement for air superiority missions at 20,000ft (6,096m), low-level ingress, strike and egress at 492ft [150m]) and anti-shipping capabilities have been mandated. In addition to an option for more Rafales, Boeing is set to offer either the Advanced F-15 or Block III Super Hornet, with Lockheed Martin touting a tailored F-16 design dubbed the F-21. In addition are the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Saab JAS 39 Gripen E, the MiG-35 “Fulcrum,” and the Su-35 “Flanker.”
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The Indian Navy too is searching for a new fighter now that the naval variant of HAL’s LCA has been deemed unsuitable for carrier operations. The Navy says it wants a powerful twin-engine fighter that would ultimately replace its MiG-29Ks. This puts both the Rafale and the Super Hornet squarely in the running, with eyes on potential synergies with the Indian Air Force’s new fighters.

The reaction to the first Rafales arriving at Ambala speaks volumes about a national perspective on the pressing need to recapitalize an ageing fighter fleet of MiG-21s, which is set against the backdrop of pressure from both China and Pakistan.

The arrival of five fighters is just the first stage of a potentially huge influx of new fighters to India, which will operate from both land and sea, in the years to come. With a host of exotic optional extras added to its Rafales by the spring of 2022, the French replacement for tired Russian MiGs is shaping up to be very impressive indeed.

Contact the author: [email protected]
 

TsAr

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Rafale Maintenance Costs Will Add Hugely to IAF's Already Strained Finances

The first five of 36 Dassault Rafale fighters that arrived at Air Force Station Ambala, north of New Delhi on Wednesday, amidst widespread hysterical media and official fanfare, are without doubt advanced pieces of lethal hardware for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

But in the mad frenzy that greeted the Rafales’ arrival, not only on television news channels featuring retired IAF chiefs of staff and fighter pilots, but by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his home minister, Amit Shah as well, there is one critical aspect that ostrich-like, many have opted to wilfully disregard or ignore.

It is that the Rafale becomes the IAF’s seventh fighter type, which will operate simultaneously with six other categories of combat aircraft, adding hugely to the overall logistics and maintenance costs for the already financially overstrained force.

These include Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKI’s, upgraded MiG-29M’s and the French Mirage 2000H, retrofitted to Mirage 2000-5 standards, all of which fall into the third or fourth generation categories. The IAF’s other fighters include Soviet-era Mikoyan MiG-21’s – nearing retirement – ground attack Anglo-French SEPECAT Jaguars and the indigenously developed Tajas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) that for now is little more than a technology demonstrator.

Consequently, the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) bill for all these different fighters, including Rafales, becomes not only a logistical nightmare for the IAF, but also incredibly expensive and one that often adversely impacts their operational availability, which for years has averaged 55-60%.

Successive Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and defence parliamentary committee reports have castigated the IAF for poor operational readiness of its platforms, especially fighters, its high rate of aircraft on ground (AoG) and limited flying hours, but to little avail.


Senior IAF officers said these shortcomings were caused ‘almost exclusively’ by MRO complications, severely hindering IAF attempts at evolving from a largely tactical force to a strategic one, capable of power projection and executing out-of-area exigencies.

The perennial problems of spares for the twin-engine MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ and Su-30MKI ‘Flanker’ fighters, for instance, highlighted Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s Moscow visit last month, in what remains an unchanged litany.

“The usual promises were made and protocols signed like earlier, but the situation on the ground simply does not seem to alter,” said a retired three-star officer, declining to be named. The operational serviceability of fighters, he lamented, remains a chronic problems for the IAF that seems difficult to beat.

For decades the IAF has faced recurring problems of maintaining its Russian military equipment, especially fighters that form its ‘sword arm’. This is because obtaining spares and other sub-assemblies for them has posed a formidable challenge.

This was exacerbated further, following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, after many of the defence manufacturing units and factories were now located in the breakaway republics like Ukraine, that were inimical to Moscow.

This, in turn, spawned a severe paucity of spares, which were not only difficult to source, but also prohibitively expensive, as some of the production lines had closed down due to little or no demand. It resulted in India’s military, including the IAF, obtaining spares of doubtful quality from the open market which, in some instances even led to equipment failure.

Industry officials said these sourcing problems could have easily been mitigated by the indigenisation of critical spares, but this did not fructify and remains a work in progress. Instances of fighters being grounded for months for lack of spares, or equipment being hauled to Russia for overhaul at inflated costs, endure.

However, the frequent predicament of maintaining assorted fighters and other IAF platforms is directly linked simply to financial resources, which are a rapidly depreciating asset.

In the fiscal year 2020-21, for instance, the IAF was allocated Rs 299.62 billion in revenue expenditure, of which, Rs 91.10 billion was apportioned to stores. This amount includes MRO for all of its platforms. But astonishingly this stores outlay was Rs 6.08 billion less than the Rs 97.18 billion allocated to stores in FY’19-20, further aggravating the IAF’s financial woes with regard to its MRO commitments.

Analysts anticipate that the IAF’s logistical troubles will magnify manifold after it eventually acquires 114 additional medium multi-role combat aircraft and 83 Mk1 Tejas LCAs in accordance with existing plans to make up for rapidly depleting fighter squadron numbers.

Instead of its sanctioned strength of 42 fighter squadrons, the IAF at present operates merely 28. This number is expected to shrink further over the next two to three years after some three to four squadrons of over 100-110 MiG-21 BIS fighters are ‘number-plated’ or retired.

“This veritable museum of IAF fighters is expensive to sustain and maintain,” said Amit Cowshish, former defence ministry financial advisor on acquisitions. Standardisation is the solution, but that is unlikely to come about for many decades, he warned, adding that this will necessitate better management of meagre resources.

Similar MRO handicaps also persevere for the IAF’s helicopter and transport fleets, along with attendant knock-on serviceability problems. But that, as they say, is another story and one that so far has failed to exploit a business opportunity under the much touted rubric of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘atmanirbharta’.

In the meantime, the remaining 31 Rafales, armed with a raft of advanced short and long range missiles, that will join service in Ambala as part of No 17 ‘Golden Arrow’ Squadron and subsequently No 101 ‘Falcons’ Squadron at Hasimara in the east by mid- 2022, will indisputably add impressive firepower to the IAF’s capabilities.
 

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Has IAF ordered Exocet missiles for its Rafale fighters? Is the C model of Rafale even able to carry an Exocet missile?

I’ve seen some pics for French Rafale, all of them were carrying a single Exocet missile and all of them were M variant.

I think it’s a big question. IAF, EAF and QAF, all of them have purchased the C variant of Rafale, and if it doesn't have Anti-Ship capability. It's a mess!
 

Salza

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Has IAF ordered Exocet missiles for its Rafale fighters? Is the C model of Rafale even able to carry an Exocet missile?

I’ve seen some pics for French Rafale, all of them were carrying a single Exocet missile and all of them were M variant.

I think it’s a big question. IAF, EAF and QAF, all of them have purchased the C variant of Rafale, and if it doesn't have Anti-Ship capability. It's a mess!
They (Indian Rafales) are not likely to be used for Naval role.
 
Last edited:

mtime7

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Has IAF ordered Exocet missiles for its Rafale fighters? Is the C model of Rafale even able to carry an Exocet missile?

I’ve seen some pics for French Rafale, all of them were carrying a single Exocet missile and all of them were M variant.

I think it’s a big question. IAF, EAF and QAF, all of them have purchased the C variant of Rafale, and if it doesn't have Anti-Ship capability. It's a mess!
Why wouldn't they be able to fire Exorcet missiles? Not that it probably matters, I would imagine these Rafale's are headed to the mountains
 
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