The Indian Air Force, for the first time, released images of a Rafale fighter jet carrying the Scalp cruise missile. A Rafale jet can carry two of the Scalp missiles, which have a range of 500 km, and is part of the weapons package. “When you know how to be Smart and Pretty — Ways of the World”, the Indian Air Force tweeted while sharing the images. The images show a Rafale carrying a Scalp missile on its ‘centreline’ pylon (the weapon station mounted at the centre of the fuselage).
The Scalp missile, manufactured by European defence giant MBDA, is designed to hit high value, strongly protected targets deep inside enemy territory. The Scalp is a stealth missile and is designed to escape radar detection and fly at a very low level. Scalp missiles have been part of the UK’s Royal Air Force and the French Air Force and were used in the Gulf War.
India already has the air-launched Brahmos missile in service and the Scalp will come as a boost to the IAF’s air defence capabilities. In 2016, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore. India has so far received 26 Rafale aircraft out of the 36 it has ordered from Dassault Aviation. The twin-engine Rafale jets are capable of carrying out a variety of missions, such as ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and nuclear strike deterrence. The Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.