After a several twists and turn, IAF finally got its share of the French twin jet Dassault Rafale aircraft.
This dealing process started with the need to extend the capabilities of IAF in the field of modern warfare and also IAF is dealing with a depleting fighter squadron strength.
Rafale was not India's only choice. Several international aviation manufacturers expressed their interest upon the Indian government's mammoth plan to revamp it's IAF fleet by introducing MMRCA's (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft's).
Initially the bidders were Lockheed Martin's F-16s ,Boeing's F/A-18s, Eurofighter Typhoon, Russia's Mig-35 Sweden's Saab's Gripen and Rafale. After carefully testing all the fighter jets, Typhoon and Rafale were shortlisted. Dassault being the lowest bidder bagged the contract to provide 126 Rafale's. Moreover, the aircraft was said to be easy to maintain.
It's usual for such negotiations to take place over several months, but it took almost over 4 years for India to take a decision and at last that deal is scrapped. The deal was signed in January, 2016 when French President arrived india for Republic day celebrations. Also, the number of jets reduced to a mere 36 units.
Some people do feel a need to know about why to choose a costlier MRCA(Rafale) over a cheaper Su-30MKI?
So, here it goes-
1. Rafale being a 4th generation jet is still said to be as good as any 5th generation fighter jet, and IAF pilots being more trained, almost 280h under their belt makes it a deadly combination. IAF is better with Sukhoi, but India have enough Sukhoi's almost more than 270 units and is in need of a new platform.
2. Rafale is a much better performing aircraft in terms of Thrust/weight ratio than it's opponent Sukhoi with a horrible T/W ratio.
3. Sukhoi could have been much better than Rafale with a smaller body, but it's not. Rafale being a MMRCA would be helpful For India in mountainous regions like kashmir and North-Eastern India.
4. Russian engines have more problems with a number unexpected maintenances and more frequent overhauls. So, you woud need more Sukhois to have the same number of aircrafts available at a particular time and point.
5. Rafale being smaller than Sukhoi, gets an advantage of being a smaller target to hit.
6. With BVR missile Meteor, Rafale flying close to border can target upto 150 km into enemy territory which even 5th generation fighters can't achieve.
Being said that Russian fighter jets are the best in the world for air superiority but they lack ground attack capability when compared to their western counterparts. So, having more than 270 air superiority fighters and no multi role fighters which have good ground attack capability due to changing warfare situations makes no sense for the fifth largest air force in the world.
The delivery process is expected to start by 2019. Let's see what good this mighty jet brings to our country.
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