10 reasons why the Indian Rafale is Evolution itself

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10 reasons why the Indian Rafale is Evolution itself

In September this year, a new building will begin to take shape at the Indian Air Force’s frontline Ambala base in the northern state of Haryana, home to the country’s Jaguar fighter-bomber fleet.

Within this new building will be equipment Indian pilots have only encountered before at air shows demonstrations and bilateral exercises with foreign forces. The equipment is a set of synthetic collective training simulators built by French firm Sogitec and is almost absurdly ahead of anything IAF crews have had the luxury of calling their own.

If you’re wondering about the title of this report, we chose it after considerable deliberation. While a legitimate debate swirls over the economics of purchasing 36 Rafale fighter planes from France’s Dassault Aviation and the impact it will have on budgets and future procurement decisions, there is no question that the ecosystem and paradigmatic shift that the French fighter brings along gives the IAF tools it has never come close operating before.

The ambit of this report is not to debunk or refute questions about the Rafale deal itself, but to provide the first detailed picture of what precisely the aircraft and its support system will do for the Indian Air Force. The short answer: a lot.

On a visit to the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, Livefist was given the first ever tour of preparations for Rafale deliveries to India that begin at the end of 2020. Eighteen aircraft each will populate two squadrons at Ambala and Hasimara in the east.

Here’s Livefist’s list of ten reasons why the Indian Rafale heralds the first substantive leap of transformation in decades.

1.) First off, the Rafale for India is not part of the conventional fighter squadron bean count in the strictest sense. It is clear now that arguments against the small number of aircraft opted for by India don’t fully hold. While the Indian Rafale deal doesn’t have an options clause for more aircraft, top sources at Dassault clarified that it was conceivable for government to government discussions around the time of delivery in 2020 to yield a decision on additional orders at currently negotiated rates for 18 more Rafales.

Top French government sources additionally told Livefist that they wouldn’t be surprised if the IAF chose not to grow its fleet beyond 36 (or 54 aircraft at the upper end) in the near term, since the real growth, they hoped, would be from the Indian Navy. It should be remembered, however, that both Dassault and rival Boeing see a separate twin engine fighter requirement from the IAF down the line.

Dassault is clear that a Make in India thrust will require bigger numbers either way. The reason is well-known: the Indian Rafale is a strategic delivery weapon for air delivered nuclear missiles and therefore doesn’t really count itself in the traditional 42 fighter squadron tally.

This is not to suggest that the Rafales won’t perform their roles as a conventional deterrent too (especially given the armament they’re coming with and the location of their two squadrons on the Pakistan and China frontiers), but their unique mission as part of India’s nuclear triad stands clearly defined.

In 2009, we had written (presciently, may we add) that the Rafale’s explicitly stated nuclear delivery capability was a marked strength in the then six-way fighter contest. With India’s upgraded Mirage 2000 jets to hold the fort for another fifteen years as our nuclear delivery aircraft, the Rafales explicitly take on that onerous role next.

Dassault recognises that. And that’s why its growth driver for the Rafale in India isn’t the IAF at all, but the Indian Navy, where it faces off in what promises to be a formidable battle with Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet (we’ll have a dogfight piece up soon).

2.) The Indian Rafale will be a modified version of the F3R standard that is currently on track towards qualification and validation in 2020 by the French government and military. The F3R Rafale is centered around integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, the Thales TALIOS laser designator pod and the laser homing version of Sagem’s AASM Hammer air-to-surface munition.

The IAF has chosen for the moment to integrate the Israeli Litening pod on the Rafale for sensor commonality across platforms (it ordered 164 last year for its Su-30s and MiG-29s). Livefist can confirm, however, that the IAF has ‘optioned’ the TALIOS pod (which replaces the obsolete in-service Thales Damocles pod) for a possible future integration.

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10 reasons why the Indian Rafale is Evolution itself uploaded in 2020-07-06 18:28:31 by World Action and Reaction News