Indian Air Force Updates

India to buy Rafale Marine Jet from France


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Rafale fighter jets

Mains level: NA


Central Idea

  • DAC Approval for Rafale: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared proposals to procure 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets and three Scorpene submarines for the Indian Navy.

Rafale Marine Fighter Jets

  • Naval Variant: Rafale Marine fighters are the naval version of the Rafale jets, with the Indian Air Force operating 36 of them.
  • Advanced Multirole Fighters: Manufactured by Dassault Aviation, the Rafales are advanced twin-engine, multirole fighter jets equipped with modern sensors, radar, and the latest weapon systems.
  • India-Specific Enhancements: The jets feature India-specific enhancements and have the capability to carry out various missions.
  • Differences in Marine Version: The naval variant has foldable wings, a longer airframe for carrier landings, a tail hook for arrested landing, and reinforced landing gear suitable for aircraft carriers’ conditions.
  • Expanded Weapon Capabilities: Rafale Marine jets can carry a wider range of weapons, including anti-ship and air-to-surface missiles, and have specialized radar for maritime operations.

Current Fleet and Need for Additional Fighters

  • MiG-29Ks: The Indian Navy currently operates MiG-29Ks from INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, which are carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft.
  • Procurement Requirement: With some MiG-29Ks expected to retire in a decade and the Navy having two operational carriers, additional deck-based fighters were needed to meet operational requirements until the indigenous Twin Engine Deck-Based Fighter (TEDBF) is developed.
  • Criteria and Selection: Only Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale-M met the Navy’s criteria, with Rafale-M having an advantage due to common spares and support with the Indian Air Force’s Rafale jets.

Export and Usage of Rafale Jets

  • Importance for France: The Rafale is a key component of France’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.
  • Orders and Deliveries: France has ordered a total of 192 Rafales, with 153 already delivered by the end of 2022.
  • Future Orders: Plans for a further order of 30 fighters and additional Rafales to offset those sold to Greece and Croatia are in the pipeline.
  • Flight and Operational Hours: The aircraft has accumulated a total of 405,000 flight hours, including 63,500 operational hours flown by French pilots since 2007.


  • The Rafale Marine jets, with their advanced features and expanded weapon capabilities, will strengthen the Navy’s deck-based fighter fleet.
  • This procurement decision marks another step towards bolstering India’s defense preparedness and self-reliance in defense manufacturing.

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