It has been several years now that Dassault Aviation and Boeing clash in India within the framework of a contract aiming to provide the Indian Naval Air Forces with 57 on-board fighters capable of simultaneously equipping the aircraft carriers equipped with the Indian Navy's sky jump, and its future aircraft carrier which will be equipped with catapults. In this case, the French group enjoys several advantages, mainly linked to the order for 36 Rafale placed in 2017 by Narendra Modi, and which provided, among other things, for the construction of a maintenance platform capable of maintaining a fleet of more than 150 combat aircraft. But there remains one area in which the Rafale has yet to prove itself, that of the use of the Ski Jump, this inclined ramp at the bow of the aircraft carrier, which allows aircraft to soar into the air with vertical speed. positive without using a catapult, especially since Boeing's F / A 18 E Super Hornet already carried out such a demonstration a year ago at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.
For it, according to the Indian press, Dassault Aviation will send one of its Rafale M, the on-board version of the French fighter, to India for this purpose, to the shore-based test facility (SBTF) site of the INS Hansa base in Goa early next year. This base is indeed equipped with a training sky jump, having been used in particular for the tests of the Tejas Mk1. Not, moreover, that the French aircraft manufacturer doubts the capabilities of its aircraft, computer simulations having shown that the Rafale was perfectly capable of using a ski jump to take to the air with a significant combat load, but in the aim of removing any hesitation on the part of the Indian authorities.
Once qualified on Ski Jump, which is more by, or in the presence of the Indian authorities themselves, the Rafale will undoubtedly be a very serious competitor in this new Franco-American duel in terms of armaments contract. Indeed, in addition to a very probable budgetary advantage due to the possible pooling of infrastructures between the devices of the Navy and the Indian Air Force and the use of a single platform already existing for this purpose, the French aircraft is also more compact than the Super Hornet, which represents a significant advantage on board an aircraft carrier, while it offers a carrying capacity and above all a range of action greater than those of the American plane. In addition, and this is still a major advantage, the French apparatus is already qualified to carry a number of ammunition and equipment in service with the Indian armed forces, limiting the investment needs to "adapt" the device with specific Indian needs. Finally, the on-board Rafale M and the land-based Rafale B / C share almost all of their components, as well as their maintenance procedures and spare parts. In fact, using the same device within the air force and naval air force significantly simplifies the training of personnel and the maintenance of the devices.
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