The Navy is likely to induct INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier into service in few months. Due to this, there have been discussions regarding the Indian Navy’s carrier-based fighter jets. As per many reports, the Navy is looking forward to take Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet or Dassault Rafale M on lease. At the same time, many interesting updates about India’s TEDBF are also coming out. This leads to the comparison: Rafale M Vs TEDBF.
We have already discussed about Twin engine deck based fighter (TEDBF) program in detail in a series of two articles.
In this article we will make a comparison between TEDBF and Rafale M. We will also discuss which aircraft we will get to see in the Navy’s inventory in the upcoming period.
Rafale M Vs TEDBF-
Twin engine deck based fighter (TEDBF) is India’s upcoming indigenous fighter aircraft. It is being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), DRDO and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for Indian Navy.
Rafale M is developed by the French company Dassault Aviation for the needs of the French Navy. It is actually a carrier-based variant of the Rafale fighter jet. Currently, F3-R standard Rafale Ms are operational with the French Navy (Marine Nationale).
Specifications: Rafale M Vs TEDBF
|Length||15.27 m (50 ft 1 in)||16.30 m (53 ft 6 in)|
|Wingspan||10.90 m (35 ft 9 in)||11.20 m (39 ft 9 in)|
|Wingspan (folded)||Wing folding feature not available||7.60 m|
|Maximum take-off weight||24,500 kg||26000 kg|
|Engines||2 M88-4e||2 General Electrics F-414|
*TEDBF is currently under development. Thus specifications may undergo some changes till the first prototype comes out.
Performance Parameters: Rafale M Vs TEDBF
|Maximum speed||Mach 1.8||Mach 1.6||Rafale M slightly faster|
|Service ceiling||15,835 m (51,952 ft)||18,000 m (60,000 ft)||TEDBF is better|
|g limits||+9/-3.6 (+11 in emergencies)||+8/-3||Rafale M is better|
**as of now only these 3 performance parameters of TEDBF are publicly available. Thus we are limiting comparison to them only.
Rafale M- Thales RBE2 AA AESA radar
TEDBF- UTTAM AESA radar (most probably an advanced variant)
The first two Rafale M were delivered to French Navy in December 2000. In June 2004, it was declared operational with French Navy.
French Navy took delivery of first Rafale M upgraded to F3-R standard in December 2018. On 29 January 2020, it began operational service over Syria. It was deployed on aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Recently, i.e. on 8 March 2021 it was declared that Rafale M F3-R has reached its full operational capability (FOC) and entered full operational service. From 2022 onward Rafale will be upgraded to F4 standards.
As mentioned above TEDBF is currently under development. It is still in its design phase. The expected timeline is as follows-
TEDBF is likely to take its first flight in 2026.
It will enter production from 2030-31.
It may be inducted in Indian Navy’s service from 2032 onwards.
42 Rafael M are in service of French Navy.
Indian Navy is expected to procure around 50 TEDBF fighters. The number may go up in future.
Rafale M’s weapons includes following weapons.
- METEOR long range air-to-air missile
- MICA air-to-air missile
- ASMP-A supersonic nuclear missile
- AASM Hammer modular air-to-ground weapon with terminal laser guidance
F4 standard Rafale M may have new weapons like-
- MICA-NG air-to-air missile
- Modular 1000 kg air-to-ground weapon
TEDBF is likely to have following weapons.
It may have advanced indigenous platforms.
- Astra family of air-to-air missiles. This will include Astra mk1, 2 and 3.
- Brahmos-NG supersonic cruise missile, which will come with lighter weight and more range than current variant of Brahmos.
- For ground attack role of may have laser guided weapons and bombs like DRDO’s Smart Anti-airfield Weapon (SAAW).
Which One Will Be Inducted By Navy?
Indian Navy doesn’t have the debate of Rafale M Vs TEDBF i.e. either Rafale M or TEDBF. TEDBF is going to be the future of India’s Naval aviation. But before induction of TEDBF there will be a gap of around 10 years.
This Navy is looking towards Rafale M as a candidate to fill this gap through leasing. Actually, the competition for leasing will be Rafale M versus F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Rafale M is one of the best fighter aircraft in the carrier-based fighters category. The TEDBF is also having great prospects. However, the TEDBF is still under development. Thus it is sure that TEDBF will be having a certain edge in terms of technology. It will be interesting to see how TEDBF evolves in the upcoming time.