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Rafale verdict: What it means for India, the fine print

The court struck down pleas that had sought re-examination of the December 14, saying it lacked merit.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 14, 2019, 06.25 PM IST
The first Rafale aircraft will arrive in India in May – after training of pilots, a batch of four Rafales will be dispatched to the Ambala airbase.
The Supreme Court gave a clean chit to the Narendra Modi government in the Rafale fighter jets deal case, saying review petitions against the deal lacked merit. The court struck down pleas that had sought re-examination of the December 14, 2018 verdict which said there was no occasion to doubt the decision-making process in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets.

The first Rafale aircraft will arrive in India in May – after training of pilots, a batch of four Rafales will be dispatched to the Ambala airbase. A lowdown:

  1. What is the Rafale deal?
    India in September 2016 inked a direct deal with the French government to purchase 36 new Rafale fighter jets in a 7.87 billion euro. Deal includes over 3 billion euros of work for the Indian industry over the next 7-8 years. India to get 28 single seater jets and 8 twin seaters for training.
  2. How will Rafale help the air force?
    The Indian Rafales carry the RB series of tail numbers, named after current Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria. The Rafale weapons package outguns all other weapons systems in the region and will give India the ability to engage Pakistani jets from a distance without being tracked. Also, the air to ground SCALP missile will be able to take down virtually any target within Pakistani soil with dead accuracy. Precision long-range ground attack missile that can take out targets with extreme accuracy. Has a range of much over 300 km which means that for the Balakote operation, Indian jets would not have needed to cross over the Line of Control and could have conducted the strike from well within own airspace.
  3. What is Meteor missile?
    Beyond visual range air-to-air missile that is possibly the best in its class. Can take out enemy aircraft at range of over 100 km. Has a no escape zone of over 60 km and the missile easily outclasses the American origin AMRAAM currently in service with Pakistan.
  4. Which all countries have Rafale and what is India getting?
    While other nations, including France and Egypt operate the Rafale, the ones supplied to India are more advanced versions, modified to meet specific requirement
    • Helmet mounted sights and targeting system to give the pilots lightening quick ability to shoot off weapons.
    • Ability to taken off from high altitude airbases like Leh on a 'cold start' - for quick reaction deployment
    • Towed decoy system to thwart incoming missile attacks
    • French industrial support for fighter for 50 years
  5. Is Rafale better than the SU 30?
    Compared to the current top edge SU 30 MKI fighter jet in the IAF, the Rafale fares much higher –
    • Loitering capability: 1.5 times of Su 30MKI
    • Range 780-1055 km vs 400-550 of Su 30MKI
    • 5 sorties per 24 hours against 3 by Su 30MKI
  6. How does Rafale stack up against Pakistan?
    For almost two decades, the air force has been outgunned when it comes to long range weapons and sensors by the Pakistani air force. Officials admit that for each Pakistani F 16 in the air, two Su 30MKI jets have to be scrambled because of the American origin jets superior radar and missiles. The Rafale will reverse this and give IAF the decisive edge with better sensors and weapons. Each Rafale in the air would require at least two F 16s for a counter challenge. Combined with the upcoming deliveries of the S 400 air defence system next year, it will greatly enhance Indian air superiority in the region. Combined, both systems will give India the ability to carry out air strikes at will within Pakistan as a means to counter terror attacks.
  7. When will India get Rafale?
    The Rafales delivered will be flown by India pilots in France for at least 1500 hours as part of the testing and acceptance process. First batch of four combat jets is expected to be ferried to India by May next year and will form the first squadron of Rafale fighters that will be deployed at the Ambala The 17 Squadron will receive the jets.
  8. How many more Rafale jets will India get?
    The IAF has been keen to acquire at least 36 more Rafale jets. The infrastructure to accommodate these is already in place and the deal for 36 more is expected to cost much lesser as India specific enhancements have been paid for. France has out an offer for additional jets on the table, will cost less that Euro 6 billion and will result in major offsets work to the Indian industry.

Also Read

SC dismisses Rafale review pleas

Rafale Judgement: End to political dogfights

Three Rafale jets handed over to India: Government

Will Rafale be a 'game changer' for India?

Congress played with India's security on Rafale controversy: Adityanath

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