Rafales must fly with Meteor air-to-air missiles, India tells France

NEW DELHI: India has asked France to arm the first four fighters with the top-level Meteor air-to-air missiles, which, with an attack range of 120 to 150 km, can overcome any missile that can be launched by Pakistanis o Chinese jets. The first Rafale fighters will land at the Ambala air base in May next year.

The request that at least 8-10 Meteor missiles beyond the visual range (BVR) be delivered with the four Rafale aircraft was transmitted to France during the visit of Defense Minister Rajnath Singh to the country to formally accept the first fighter in Merignac in the Bordeaux region on October 8.

“Previously, according to the Rs 59,000 million rupee agreement signed by 36 Rafale planes and their weapons packages in September 2016, the progressive deliveries of the Meteor and the Scalp air-to-land cruise missiles of more than 300 km would begin several months later . , Said a source.

“But given the current operational situation with Pakistan, India has requested a faster delivery of at least 8-10 Meteor missiles. France is examining the request, ”he added.

The request comes in the context of the aerial skirmish between Indian and Pakistani fighters in the Nowshera sector along the Control Line on February 27, one day after the bombing of the JeM facilities in Pakistan. The Sukhoi-30MKI and other planes, which rushed to intercept incoming Pakistani fighters, had difficulty attacking the F-16s over long distances that day, which also saw how Wing Commander MiG-21 Abhinandan Varthaman was shot down. , like it was before. reported by TOI.

The Pakistani F-16s were armed with the medium-range advanced air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) AIM-120C, which have a range of approximately 100 km, and had released several of them in the Sukhoi-30MKI before the latter even You could enter your shooting range.

The IAF says that the operational dynamics to achieve air dominance will change with the induction of the Rafales armed with the larger-range Meteor missiles propelled by Ramjet engines to fly at Mach 4 speed. Meteor missiles are possibly the best in the world to Air combat duels, with a greater no-escape zone for hostile fighters than any comparable BVR weapon. Pakistan and China do not currently have any missiles of this class in their combat inventories.

During the ministerial defense dialogue in October, France also offered Indian experts the opportunity to verify the performance of Rafale omni-role jets, which can also deliver nuclear weapons if necessary, in a high-temperature environment at their military base. in the UAE.

A team of pilots, engineers and induction technicians from the IAF is currently in training in France, which has so far delivered three Rafales to India. Once this training is finished, the first four Rafales will head to India in May 2020. The 36 planes will arrive in India in April 2022, with 18 each deployed at the Ambala and Hasimara air bases for the western and eastern fronts with Pakistan and China

The Rafales, with a combat range of 780 km to 1,650 km depending on the mission, are armed with a package of deadly weapons, advanced avionics, radars and electronic warfare systems to avoid blocking opponents and ensure superior survival in the hostile airspace disputed. Each Rafale, for example, can also carry two Scalp cruise missiles to fire and forget to reach fortified targets of high value over 300 km away.

But the 13 specific improvements to India (ISE) or updates to the 36 Rafales will be fully operational only in October 2022 after undergoing a software certification after all aircraft have arrived in India. Upgrades range from radar improvements, screens mounted on Israeli helmets and low-band blockers to towed lure systems, 10-hour flight data recording and engine capacity for cold starting from high altitude regions such as Ladakh. They also include Israeli lighting pods for the acquisition of targets and guide kits for precisely guided Spice ammunition, which were used to bomb the JeM facilities in Balakot on February 26.

On video: