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Airforce preparing Rafale Jet for 2 front war scenario

Defence News: Both China and Pakistan will find their airforces falling out of the skies in case of a war with India, if  the IAF orders  80-90 more Rafales. I will explain why. The French have started building the Rafale jets meant to be delivered to India, and Indian Airforce is already planning it’s deployment in Ambala(Haryana) and Hasimara (West Bengal).

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Image: Dassault

If we exercised the option to go for more Rafales (the Navy may order 57 Rafale Jets) with IAF going in for 60-80 more jets, both China and Pakistan will find their airforces struggling to keep themselves in skies. Not that our fleet of SuU-30, Mig 29 and other fighters will let them breathe easy even if a war broke out today, but the Rafale will bring fresh blood and more capabilities to the table.

The Rafale has started rolling:

Currently under manufacturing in France (yes manufacturing of the Rafale jet has begun). Sources said Dassault has already started the process of building the aircraft, and they are supposed to be delivered from September 2019 onwards. However given India’s relationship with France and Indian request to process the deliveries sooner, it may not be a surprise if the first jets came to India at the last quarter of 2018. Although the French counterparts have not committed and maintain the promised dateline, an unnamed Indian Official has said “We are requesting the French to advance the deliveries to meet our requirements and hope to get a positive reply”

Air Bases are being readied:

IAF has started the process of developing the infrastructure at air force bases and they would be ready by the time the aircraft fly in for operational service. The Ambala Airbase will act as a strike base for Pakistan facing squadron, while Hasimara will field Rafales for China threats. Both airbases are at strategic locations to make their daily mission flights. Flanking the Rafale is the Su-30MKI Air superiority fighter which is already active at Texpur and Chhabua for China while Jodhpur, Sirsa, Halwara face the Pakistan theater. Leh airbase also fields the fighter which sit between Pakistan China nexus of evil.

SU-30MKI, growing into a potent warrior:

The Su-30 MKI will compliment the Rafale in forming a formidable strike formation for their different mission needs. Deadly weapon mix with different missiles (although a headache for maintenance) is a death call for enemy fighters and targets. No load-out can effectively be pre-planned specific to this partnership of the two deep strike fighters. As the missiles, munitions, radars and capabilities are different, the enemy cannot afford to look beyond “generic” self defence and attack profiling for their own fighters. Severely limited with the spread and type of armaments, enemy aircraft may find it had to win an air battle, especially with such capable adversaries. Similarly Invading aircraft can be shot down with it’s cutting edge AESA radar combined with the new meteor missile before the aircraft show up on the horizon. Besides other missiles and antiaircraft systems are deployed by India. An Invasion into Indian mainland is very, very difficult even without the Rafale.

Su 30-MKI is also undergoing improvement in serviceability and a possible “super sukhoi” upgrade, we wrote about it in the title “Five upgrades that will make the SU-30MKI Invincible”

The strengths of the Rafale:

  • Exceptional serviceability: The aircraft is modular and comes with exceptional service availability. This means lower downtime and more action. Even for an engine replacement, the aircraft need not leave the base. All it takes is half an hour to replace the engine and send the aircraft back in action. IAF deal with Dassault includes service availability guarantee and maintenance agreement.
  • Better ground attack ability: The Rafale was designed with ground attack in mind, as a result it can carry 9 tonnes of weapons. Pounding enemy positions while still carrying a few A2A missiles, it can not only defend itself, but shoot the enemy out of the sky.
  • AESA radar: Rafale is available with a modern AESA radar and IRST (infrared search and track). This enables the aircraft to detect enemy aircraft, target and destroy them while not giving away it’s position with active radar signatures. AESA uses beam steering and does not require a mechanical antenna, it also phases its frequency to avoid detection. AESA radars can spread their signal emissions across a wider range of frequencies, which makes them more difficult to detect over background noise, allowing the Rafale to radiate powerful radar signals while still remaining stealthy. It is also extremely difficult for enemy aircraft to jam the AESA radar too.
  • Here comes SPECTRA: The biggest strength of the Rafale is its SPECTRA electronic counter measure (ECM) system.  SPECTRA gives the Rafale a “semi-stealth” capability when combined with its construction of radar absorbing materials.  This enables it to avoid enemy detection by sending out false signals, decoys, or  jamming enemy radar.
  • METEOR Missiles: The MBDA 185KG Mach 4 missile is capable of radar homing, inertial guided, data linked missile is one of the deadliest in operation. It adorns the Gripen, Typhoon and F35. The range is 100km plus and under ballistic flight increases to 300KM! It is hard to escape the kill radius of this one.
  • Supercruise: The Rafale can supercruise with a light A2A or other light ground missile load. Ideally once it has expended it’s heavy load in a mission, it can return with a lighter load at quick turnaround and even take on a limited strike mission at another location. Supercruise is ability to go supersonic without afterburners. This is less fuel consuming and the range of the arcraft at supersonic speeds is increased as a result. This feature in found in fifth generation fighters.
  • Other unmentioned benefits: The fighter has other benefits hidden to the common eyes, some of them are: interchangeability of weapons and loadout with mirage, short take off distance, longer engine overhaul intervals compared to eastern bloc, wide weapons loadout, air refueling probe, full HOTAS and glass cockpit, data sharing and missile handover (meteor) after firing (to another IAF aircraft, upgrade may be required) and many more.
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Above: Rafale Load-out, Dassault aviation infographic

How does it face the China-Pakistan Airforces.

For Pakistan, we already have more than adequate coverage countering their jets. China has a new stealth jet in the making, which has been classified as a good bomber but not a true fifth generation fighter by US think tanks. It’s Russian jets are still not up to the mark when comparing the technology available with India (thanks to Russia not offering them everything), although the gap is closing fast, Rafale will widen it again, the French jet is cutting edge and hard to beat. It’s a great all rounder and a true MMRCA. I will not go into detailed analysis of Chinese jets (and let’s not talk about the crappy yet somewhat effective nuisance in the sky JF 17 Pakistani fighter.) But I have traveled that road and I can say that there is certainly a potent threat. To that threat a combined effort to procure Tejas in large numbers and fill the top end with Rafale with Su30MKI along with a new FGFA for the future is the road we should take. Not to mention advancing on air defence on national, airbase and military unit level is also quite important. This will ensure safe skies and a prosperous India.

What do you think? Post your comments below:

Written by Baldev Singh

Baldev Singh is a tough talking nationalist who has a flair for writing. Defence matters, technical details on weapons and war scenarios are his key expert areas. Baldev is known to walk the talk in his personal life. He is from Patiala (Punjab). His friends call him a "blunt weapon" but he is often found reading old books when free!

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