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Demonstration Of Rafale-M Fighter For INS Vikrant Begins In Goa

Eyeing the Indian Navy’s carrier-borne fighter jet deal, France sent a Rafale maritime fighter aircraft to a naval facility in Goa on Thursday to demonstrate its combat capabilities.

The Indian Navy is planning to procure a batch of fighter jets for indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) Vikrant that is likely to be commissioned in August.

The demonstration by the naval variant of the Rafale jet has kicked off at the shore-based test facility (SBTF) in Goa, people familiar with the development said.

In 2017, the Indian Navy had issued a Request for Information (RFI) to procure 57 multi-role combat aircraft for its aircraft carrier.

First Rafale-M lands at INS Hansa.

Four planes were in contention for the deal which included Rafale (Dassault, France), F-18 Super Hornet (Boeing, US), MIG-29K (Russia), and Gripen (Saab, Sweden).

While F-18, Rafale, and MIG-29K are twin-engine jets, Gripen is a single-engine aircraft.

In the next few months, remaining contenders are also likely to bring in their aircraft to India for demonstration.

Also Read, Rafale M Vs TEDBF: A Comparison

The government also wanted the manufacture of these planes in India. The RFI sought to know at what level of Transfer of Technology (ToT) and deep repair expertise the companies are willing to share with India.

India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around ₹ 59,000 crores for the Indian Air Force.

The first batch of five Rafale jets, manufactured by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, arrived in India on July 29, 2020.

Already 33 Rafale jets have been delivered to the IAF by the plane’s maker Dassault Aviation.

Also Read, In-Depth Analysis- Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF): Part-1

French Defence Minister Florence Parly, during a visit to India last month, indicated that France will be interested to supply the carrier-based jets.

“We know that the aircraft carrier will soon be…that aircraft are needed. We are open and ready to provide any other Rafale if this is India’s decision,” she said. 

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One Comment

  1. What is interesting is that the Rafale F4 standard has funny features, actually, Rafales are constantly upgraded to match with upcoming threats (rather than dealing with new ones, threats are considered before they hit the market). The F4.1 sees stealth reinforced through the use of a form of cold plasma discovered by a French research center, radar is upgraded, etc, Rafale F4.2 will e.g. have is quantum well IRST (QWIP) becoming a 3rd gen QWIP….
    The list is too long to quote but the features are truly outstanding, F4 is really a major upgrade campaign (French F3R units start to be upgraded in 2022, new Rafales will start o be delivered at F4 standard in 2023.

    One of the main features is that the engines for are more powerful than previous standards, allowing a continuous Mach2 (new nose won’t melt after 3 minutes) but my personal opinion is that Rafale clients, especially India and France as well since these are the Rafales that are the most likely to see combat, should consider going further since the M88 is modular, so can be upgraded on existing engines, but there are VERY INTERESTING things to know about this engine!
    – HAL can build these.
    – The 91kN version is available since 2009
    – The 98kN version was built on DRDO’s request and delivered to DRDO in 2018.
    This version was validated by DRDO and flight tested on Tejas
    – M88 can be delivered in any thrust up to 115kN within 18 months on client’s request. The short delay is due to the fact you don’t need to change the engine’s core up to 115kN.
    I consider that the 115kN version would be the best option for Rafale-M if used on a STOBAR aircraft carrier : with 23,47 tons of maximum thrust for 24.5t MTOW, the aircraft may even take-off overloaded : with the 75kN engines, Rafale can take off with 12t payload and half internal fuel, then do the complement from an air-tanker.
    – Safran demonstrated a 100kN dry thrust version. I consider that this one should be the main Rafale’s engine : it would allow Mach2+ with supersonic payloads in supercruise, this means 2.5x less kerosene consumption than by using post-combustion. Rafale can already reach Mach1.4 with 2x50kN dry thrust.
    – A M88/Propfan version was demonstrated. It can replace the CFM56 (CFM56 = M56 produced by a Safran/GE joint venture) and CFM LEAP. The M88/Propfan reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 30% on CFM56, the LEAP only cuts 15%. CFM56 is the most built jet engine ever, its successor, the LEAP, is already #2 and has so much orders that deliveries are scheduled over 8 years.
    – Safran long proposed the M88 with thrust vectoring. As nobody ordered this feature since Rafale can do 11G manoeuvres without this, they withdrew the option from the catalogue, this still can be made.
    – Rafale-A demonstrator used the GE F404 engine, just like the Tejas or the Hornet. It only took 6 months to Dassault to mount, flight test and validate the M88 on Rafale-A when the engine became available.
    – The engine allows 6 missions per 24h in normal use and 11+ in intensive use and to fly more than 10 hours a day. This is unique for a jet fighter engine, no other can do this
    – The M88 is only 69.6cm diameter for 3,54m long and 897kg. This means a volume of 1.34m³ only. So it can be mounted as an upgrade on most of the jet fighters, making room for extra-fuel inside the airframe, allowing them to fly way much more with more reliability. According to Australian air force (RAAF), the Super-Hornet/Growler’s real hourly cost is $24k. The Rafale’s hourly cost is $10-12k only! This implies that a single-engine Gripen-E costs as much as a Rafale to fly, Gripen-C or Tejas being not far behind…
    Look at engine specs :
    F404 (Hornet, Tejas, Golden-Eagle, Gripen-C/D) : D:89cm/1035kg/78.7kN 2.43m³
    F414 (Super-Hornet, Gripen-E/F): D:89cm/1110kg/97.9kN 2.43m³
    RD-33 (MiG-29) : D:104cm/1055kg/88kN 3.6m³
    M53 (Mirage-2000) : D:79.6cm/1515kg/95kN 2.523m³
    R25-300 (MiG-21bis) : D:104cm/1055kg/88kN 3.6m³
    AL-31F (Su-30) : D:90.5-128cm/1520kg/122.58kN 6.36m³
    F100-PW220 (F-15, F-16) : D:88-118cm/1467kg/105.7N 5.36m³
    F125-GA-100 : D:91.4cm/42.1N 2.07m³; 56kN and 73kN versions produced. Used by F-CK-1 Ching-kuo, successfully tested on Indian SEPECAT Jaguar but rejected since Honeywell wanted an enormous $13M per engine.

    Thus, M88 could be used to replace the engines on Mirage-2000, MiG-29, Bison, Tejas, Jaguar and even for the Su-30MKI. It may seem odd with the Su-30 as the AL31F is more powerful (122.58kN) than the maximum 115kN feasible so Su-30 has 15.16kN (1.55t) more thrust than by using two M88/115, but they’re also 1246kg heavier, and are more fuel thirsty, so, all in all, with fuel allowing the same range, thrust/weight ratio is the same. Another point is that AL31F has a
    74.6kN dry thrust, while M88/115 would provide 100kN, allowing serious super-cruise.

    HAL wants to create a stretched Tejas Mk2 on the same recipe as the Gripen-E which replaces the F404 with a F414 and Gripen-E ends being heavier with lesser performances than a Mirage-2000… But,at best, consider 10-12 years between the first flight and deliveries starting and considering past records, I wouldn’t be so optimistic with HAL.
    The 2 issues with Tejas Mk1 are lack of thrust and lack of internal fuel…
    BUT, with M88 being MUCH smaller, and even available in a 100kN dry thrust version which can only be smaller/lighter than a post combustion version, M88 frees no less than a cubic-metre for more fuel and will ring even more thrust than a Mirage-2000 while lowering the cost of use and making a Tejas Mk2 useless but the only interest of a Mark.2 is allowing to syphon big public money while building nothing since HAL perfectly knows that DRDO successfully flight tested Tejas Mk.1 with the M88.
    The HAL board should be strongly reminded who is the owner of the company : the people of India, or the board should be fired. Some examples:
    – HAL receives Su-30 as kits for $21.4M. Sukhoi sells a Su-30 for $37.5M, India pays $76M/aircraft, and don’t tell me the upgrade with Israeli and French avionics worth $38.5M : Rafale’s full avionics+combat systems worth about $20M and are 1-3 generations ahead.
    – HAL wanted $67 millions per Tejas Mk1a (Mk1 = $23M) just to upgrade it with the Elta AESA radar and a few minor points, which is one of the cheapests AESA on market… In fact, the Mk1a upgrade is similar to the latest upgrade on Jaguar… Nirmala had to hard negotiate for 3 years to lower the price to $37M/unit… Sorry, but in such a case, the state should remind the CEO who is his employer, in other terms, you don’t negotiate, the CEO gets fired! Especially since :
    – IAF requested the Tejas Mk1a to be able to fire the Meteor missile. HAL refused as they want to domestically produce the Elta radar which is not compatible : the Meteor has a datalink that is only compatible with radars mounted on Gripen, Typhoon or Rafale… Well, there are offsets in the Rafale contract, even worse, Thales made a RBE-2/AESA redesign making it fit into the Tejas (or Gripen) noses, and this version has been flight-tested and validated by DRDO. In the RBE-2/AESA, a T/R module does the job of two US ones, the radar is as powerful as what is mounted on a F-22 or F-35 and the offsets in the Rafale contract allows India to produce this radar which will be useful for future Rafales on Make-in-India program too!
    – HAL signed a protocol to build the M88 engine in India but has to buy F404 and F414 engines from the USA, and F404 had its imports blocked for years after the 1998 US sanctions following the nuclear tests, delaying Tejas by about 10 years. Oh, yeah, HAL already bought 99 F414!!! How stupid!!!
    But there are several possibilities rather than building an useless Tejas Mk2, one is re-selling the engines to Saab or Boeing as Gripen-E and Super-Hornet use these, the other is to mount them on Tejas Mk1/1a until new ones adapted for M88 with redesigned internal fuel-tanks can be delivered… F414 is more fuel thirsty? Right BUT what was done for F-16 or F-15 to compensate when more powerful engines were mounted?
    Adding conformal tanks!
    – HAL built the Tejas assembly line to produce only 8 aircraft a year, and now is building a 2nd one, but… The 1st assembly line doesn’t even delivers 8 units… With IAF needing more than 300 Tejas to replace MiG-21, MiG-23 and Jaguar, HAL is f**king kidding!!! Paki JF-17 assembly line delivers 25 aircraft a year! India has to deal with Pak and China, the assembly line should be able to deliver two full squadrons of 21 a year, not just 8 aircraft
    – HAL wanted $200 millions/aircraft to produce Rafale… Dassault delivers Rafale with a €56 millions flyaway cost!!!
    => Govt should audit HAL, the audit must highlight why the company is not efficient, how to improve, and HAL board members who are dragging feet or opposing should be disposed by shareholders, and 85% of the shares being held by the state of India, the company MUST comply with IAF needs… To be frank, I think there are bureaucracy issues in the company, but there might be embezzlement, probably to the benefit of a political party that may no more be in power, or for private interests.

    – There is more room inside the Tejas-M to fit more combat systems. So, SPECTRA can be mounted in this version, as well as the OSF-IT QWIP (quantum IRST). Even a standalone version of SPECTRA’s active stealth has beencreated for Tejas and validated by DRDO.
    The only things to rafalize Tejas that DRDO didn’t tested/validated are :
    – The reinforced airframe (which would cut half a ton on empty weight while adding bigger internal tanks and M88)
    – The RBS parachute to save the aircraft in case of critical failure: being a single engine aircraft, if the engine fails, the aircraft is lost. Nowadays, there are parachutes sustaining 27 tons and being opened at about Mach1 or more. RBS are nowadays commonly mounted on small civilian aircraft, they’re even mandatory in Germany, including for ultralights. The proposal came from Dassault, these guys know what they are doing.
    Rafale’s technologies can make Tejas the best single engine jet fighter on market, just like Rafale is the best twin engines. The only obstacle is HAL’s erratic behaviour.
    Multiple racks for 5 AAMs should be made

    Some custom features should definitively added to Indian Rafales
    => Multiple racks for 5 MBDA Meteor and two MICA-NG.
    => A 3000L belly drop tank as well as conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) (2x 1050L) are available.
    Such a combination, especially with 2x100kN dry thrust, would allow very serious CAP (combat air patrol) : the CFTs and the 3000L tank would allow to patrol for 3400km at cruise speed while carrying up to 22 Meteor and 6 MICA-NG while the fuel consumption is 2.5x lower than by using post-combustion with the same thrust

    NOW THE MOST CLEVER THING TO DO : modify the whole IAF/INAA fleet with the M88 engine and more internal fuel tanks : cradles can be created to fit both the engine and the tanks inside the airframe.
    Jaguar with 2x 50kN dry thrust (DT)
    Tejas, Mirage-2000, MiG-29, Rafale-C/B, Bison with 100kN/DT
    Rafale-M and MiG-29K with 115kN/post-combustion (PC)
    Su-30MKI with 115kN/PC + Thrust Vectoring.
    P-8 Poseidon; Boeing 737; Boeing 707; Il-76; Il-78; Beriev A-50 : M88/propfan

    > There are no drop-tanks available for Su-30 but there would be plenty of room inside, likely more than it’d need to stuff 4000-10000L additional fuel. This would allow very long range maritime strikes while retaining AAMs for air superiority, it would even be feasible to fit two RBE2-AESA as lateral radars at tail level, so, nonetheless Su-30 may use Meteor, but will be able to do hit’n’run attacks so you can flee while attacking instead of having to keep the target in front of you.

    Remember that the M88 being modular, any version can be switched to another version.
    Even if vintage aircraft are set to be retired.
    So, why doing so?
    This will slash by 50% the annual cost of the jet-fighters and by 30% the costs of others, those pointed being all CFM56-OK, this will be a 30% cut.
    By proceeding this way, without any need to vote additional credits at Lok-Sabbah (or very few), the MoD will be able to purchase 2 brand new Tejas and Rafale squadrons a year, the cost per unit being lowered since the engine would be taken from a retiring aircraft!!!!
    In other terms, funding new jet fighters won’t be an obstacle any more which would be a great thing since, to reach a 45 squadrons force which may not even be enough unless clever choices are made!
    Remember that PAF has 525 supersonic jet-fighters with 86 new ones on order, and 96 trainers/light strike aircraft, not counting UCAVs and armed choppers. Meanwhile, PLAAF+PLANAF weight around 161 strategic bombers, 2233 combat aircraft, 383 armed trainers, 59 AWACS, UCAVs, 980 gunship choppers, etc…
    This means 3000 combat aircraft, 500 2nd line armed aircraft, 70 AWACS, 24 refuellers, 1100+ armed choppers, hundreds of UCAVs,other aircraft and choppers that need to be neutralised, and neither Pak nor PRC are the kind to declare war, they will attack but you don’t know if it’s a raid, a limited conflict or an all-out war…

    Therefore, letting things go by applying patches here and there, buying a few squadrons is highly toxic for IAF while the law says 42-45 squadrons…
    But, even with
    15 squadrons of 18x Su-30 = 270 aircraft
    15 squadrons of 18x Rafale = 270 aircraft
    15 squadrons of 21x Tejas = 315 aircraft
    2 squadrons of MiG-29K = 36
    3 squadrons of Rafale-M = 57
    This wouldn’t even be 950 first line combat aircraft.
    But at the present day, it’s nowhere near from this!
    IAF has only 768 supersonic aircraft with 444 being vintage

    Therefore, being outnumbered by a 3:1 factor, IAF should at least be provided with truly up to date aircraft to be kept well upgraded, and able to carry as much air-to-air missiles as is a single one was 3 or 4 aircraft.
    The way to make Tejas a true mini-Rafale was delivered by Dassault, according to the offset, as soon as summer 2017…I thought it would become Tejas Mk1a… I was far from reality. Last year, I’ve learn that HAL started to cut metal for the Mk.2.
    Had the decision to build such a Super-Tejas Mk1 been taken in 2017, as well as mass orders for these and for Rafale, with the delivery of 2 squadrons of each, deliveries could have started in 2021…
    Meanwhile, Pak has already introduced 138 JF-17 with 50 improved block.3 to come, and now 36 J-10CE will be delivered on short notice, likely taken from PLAAF inventory…
    It’s like if politicians believe the only threat is Pak while, show signs of weakness, you get a much bigger monkey on your back.
    Actually, the whole procurement process needs to be revised then applied not only to the air-force but also to the army and the navy. Some thinking out of the box would be a great way to go too.
    And, yeah, please stop negotiating like Indian women in garter shops. By taking 10 years to decide which aircraft you need to mass purchase, then 5 years to pass an order order of 36, then wait until all are delivered to start considering further orders, you’re in to ask Putin to refurbish all the unfinished Soviet-era MiG-29 left.
    Go on like this and soon, you may end facing a PAF more powerful than IAF and not speaking about what PLAAF+PLANAF have in stores. 36 Rafales can’t deal with 3000 jet fighters, actually, even 3000 WW2 warbirds would be too much.
    Even getting rid from classic airbases would be wise : using non permanent secret small road bases with just 4 aircraft and not taking-off/landing when there is a spy-sat flying over these would be clever… airbases with fighters squadrons are #1 targets for ballistic+cruise missiles, so are SAM and main radar sites… Just look at how things happened with Saddam and Gaddafi.
    Excluding Rheinmetall/Oerlikon from Indian market as they were caught paying bribes was a terrible mistake as there’s nothing like their NBS MANTIS/SkyShield, especially since laser turrets are available. Having a MANTIS with two lasers and 4 guns is near impossible to go through for missiles, drones, shells…

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