From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Rafale, Hammer
Mains level : India's arsenal
The five Rafale fighter jets that landed in Ambala will resurrect the Number 17 Golden Arrows squadron of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Try this PYQ from CSP 2018:
Q.What is “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)”, sometimes seen in the news?
(a) An Israeli radar system
(b) India’s indigenous anti-missile programme
(c) An American anti-missile system
(d) A defence collaboration between Japan and South Korea
(Refer image for specifications)
- The state-of-the-art 4.5 Generation Rafale jet can reach almost double the speed of sound, with a top speed of 1.8 Mach.
- With its multi-role capabilities, including electronic warfare, air defence, ground support and in-depth strikes, the Rafale lends air superiority to the Indian Air Force.
Armed with modern arms
- Each aircraft has 14 storage stations for weapons. The jets come with one of the most advanced Meteor air-to-air missiles.
- The 190-kg missile has a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) of over 100 km, travelling at a top speed of Mach 4.
- The Rafale jets also come with SCALP, the air-to-ground cruise missile with a range over 300 km. It is a long-range deep strike missile.
- The MICA air-to-air missile on Rafale is for both, close-quarter dogfights, and for BVR.
- IAF has also asked for HAMMER (Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range), which is an air-to-ground precision-guided missile that can be used against bunker-type hardened targets within the range of 70 km.
What is so special about Rafale fighter jet?
- 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.This has a huge potential to develop direct and indirect employment opportunities.
- 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.
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
- 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
- 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.
For an edge over China
- While China’s J20 Chengdu jets are called fifth-generation combat jets, compared to 4.5 generation Rafale, the J20 have no actual combat experience.
- Whereas the Rafale is combat proven, having been used by the French Air Force for its missions in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali.
- It has also been used for missions in Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria. Rafale can also carry more fuel and weapons than the J20.