The Rafale M in a good position to equip the Indian Navy

From January 6, 2022, a Rafale M of the French Navy will carry out the qualification tests for the use of a Ski Jump, as part of the competition between the F / A 18 E / F Super Hornet to equip the aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy. These tests, which will take place within the naval air base of Goa where the Ski Jump platform is located where the Indian Tejas was tested in particular, will be followed, in February, by similar tests concerning the American Super Hornet, even if it had already demonstrated its ability to take air from this type of installation in December 2020 at the Patuxent River site in Maryland. However, once the Rafale M has passed these tests, and there is no reason to doubt that this will not be the case since all the simulations made by Dassault Aviation have shown the French fighter's perfect ability to operate from such a platform, it will be in a strong position in this competition which involves a number ranging from 36 to 57 combat aircraft for Indian naval aeronautics.

Indeed, the French aircraft enjoys many advantages over its American competitor, first of all its smaller dimensions, allowing the aircraft to be integrated into aircraft carriers already in service with the Indian Navy, INS Vikramaditya. and above all the INS Vikrant, which should come into service during this year, without having to make costly adaptations to the buildings themselves. Thus, the Rafale and its 15,2 meters long with a wingspan of 10,8 meters, has a smaller footprint than that of the Mig-29s already in service in the Indian Navy, 16 meters long for a wingspan of 12 meters, where the Super Hornet is 18,3 meters long for a wingspan of 13,3 meters, which is greater than the dimensions of the elevators in service on Indian aircraft carriers, of a length given to be less than 17 meters .. Consequently, many installations on board Indian aircraft carriers, designed to accommodate the Mig-29K, are undersized to accommodate the American aircraft, and will have to be modified to be able to receive it, resulting in significant costs, but also a heavy immobilization in these times of tension vis-a-vis China and Pakistan.

Indian aircraft carriers were designed to use the Russian Mig-29K fighter, a much smaller aircraft than Boeing's Super Hornet. The French Rafale, on the other hand, is more compact than the Russian aircraft, and therefore would not require structural adaptation of Indian aircraft carriers to be on board.

In addition, the Rafale M offers superior performance than its competitor, whether in terms of its range or its carrying capacity, and has no particular weakness against the Super Hornet in other areas. Thus, in its anti-aircraft warfare configuration, the Rafale can take off with two additional tanks, 2 very long-range Meteor missiles, 2 missiles Mid-range radar-guided Mica (NG) and 2 infrared-guided Mica missiles for self-defense. However, the Super Hornet does not have any weapon system offering superior performance, whether it is the AIM9X Sidewinder with infrared guidance against the Mica NG IR, the AIM-120 at medium range, or of the future AIM-260 supposed to be on par with the European Meteor. The same is true in the field of anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles or precision bombs, the two devices having performance systems very similar to each other.

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