Naval version of Rafale fighter Jet

Context: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) held a meeting to clear proposals to buy 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets for the Navy.

Naval version of Rafale fighter Jet

Rafale Marine (R-M) modification over Rafale 

  • A reinforced undercarriage to cope with the stresses of landing on a carrier deck.
  • A tail hook for arresting landings.
  • A “jump strut” nosewheel, which only extends during short takeoffs, including catapult launches.
  • A built-in ladder for accessing the cockpit from the carrier deck.
  • A carrier-based microwave landing system (MLS).
    • MLS enables an approaching aircraft to determine when it is aligned with the destination runway and on the correct glidepath for a safe landing
  • A new fin-tip Telemir system for syncing the inertial navigation system to external equipment.
  • Different radar system, the Thales RBE2-M, which is optimized for maritime operations.
  • Different electronic warfare suite, the Thales SPECTRA, which is optimized for maritime operations.
  • The ability to carry a wider range of weapons, including anti-ship missiles and air-to-surface missiles. 
  • The Rafale M is also slightly heavier than the Rafale due to the additional weight of the modifications.

Benefits of Rafale-M for India 

  • It will enhance the commonality by reinforcing interoperability with the air force.
  • A common weapon and electronics pool and the India-specific enhancements of the Rafale are all significant advantages for the Navy and represent significant cost savings.
    • The India-specific enhancements that include a potent optical suite for the detection of stealth aircraft and nuclear delivery capability.
  • R-M will create deterrence against Chinese navy which is better equipped with all Sukhoi 30 derivatives — heavier, better equipped, and more potent than the MiG-29.
  • R-M with longer-range missiles like the Meteor as well as the ability to detect any purported stealth aircraft through infrared emissions have advantages against enemy navy aircraft.
  • R-M’s optical systems now outrange their Russian and Chinese counterparts by a huge margin.
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Rafale-M over Hornet of USA

  • Air-to-air missile, the AMRAAM, of Super Hornet does not provide the kind of standoff kills that the Meteor-Rafale combo does.
  • Americans would have not allowed the integration of any nuclear weapons delivery system with the Super Hornet.
  • For Super Hornet India had to set up a whole new training, maintenance and logistics supply chain units.

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)

A Defence Acquisition Council is headed by the Defence minister, and have the following functions:

  • Give ‘in principle’ approval to Capital acquisitions in the Long-Term Perspective Plan (LTPP) covering a 15-year time span at the beginning of a Five-Year Plan period.
    • The approval will, in particular, identify the ‘Make’ projects in the Perspective Plan where long gestation periods are involved. 
  • The approval will involve the identification of Either –
    • Buy’ Projects (outright purchase)
    • ‘Buy and Make’ projects (purchase followed by licensed production/ indigenous development) 
    • ‘Make’ Projects (indigenous production and R&D)
  • Monitor the progress of major projects on feedback from the Defence Procurement Board.

The approval in principle should be seen as the first step in the process of ‘acceptance of necessity’ by the concerned Administrative Wing in MoD.

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