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Dassault Rafale - the big winner!

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By Ritu Mousumi Tripathy

In what could be the first-ever international export deal for it, French defence firm Dassault Aviation appears to have clinched a major contract to supply 126 Rafale combat planes to the Indian Air Force under the Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal.

The selection of Rafale for India's mega defence deal, estimated to be worth over $11 billion, is set to project the French warplane not only as a competent combat jet but also boost its prospects in other global deals where it is a contender.

Interestingly, the Dassault-made aircraft was initially out of the multi-million dollar MMRCA deal on technical grounds as the aircraft manufacturer did not provide the required information on some equipment and add-ons that the IAF wanted.

The aircraft maker later launched a fresh bid to address the issues and Rafale made its reentry as one of the six contenders that included US defence major Lockheed Martin's F-16 Super Viper and Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet, Russian United Aircraft's MiG-35, Swedish SAAB's Gripen and European consortium EADS's Eurofighter Typhoon.

While four of the contenders -- Lockheed, Boeing, MiG and Saab -- exited the race much earlier following flight trials, the French fighter remained in contention along with the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Edging out the Typhoon, the French firm emerged as the lowest bidder in the final race -- a criteria under which it will bag the deal as per India's Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).

The victory for Rafale has come at a much-needed time as its manufacturer is making all out efforts to sell the fighters to some other countries, including Switzerland, UAE and Brazil.

Though the French combat jet has faced stiff competition from fighters produced by other major global aviation giants and even fallen out in a number of previous deals, the MMRCA win is certainly going to give a major fillip to its chances to make headway into other nation's armed forces.

In a recent development, Dassault has made a fresh offer to the Switzerland government to sell 18 Rafale jets for $2.96 billion after it lost out to Swedish Saab's Gripen fighter in November last year to supply new combat planes to replace the Swiss F-5 fighters.

Meanwhile, the company is also negotiating a deal worth $10 billion to supply 60 Rafale fighters to the UAE Air Force.

Rafale is also in contention along with Swedish Gripen and Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet for the Brazilian Air Force's bid to buy 36 new jet fighters having an initial value estimated at $4 billion to $7 billion.

The twin-engine delta-winged agile multi-role 4.5-generation Rafale fighter features high-tech avionics, radar, and targeting systems. The warplane is capable of carrying out a wide range of short and long-range missions including ground and sea attack, air defence and high accuracy strike or nuclear strike deterrence.

The Rafale has the advantage of being logistically and operationally similar to the Dassault-made Mirage 2000 warplanes which also constitute a part of the Indian Air Force's fighters' fleet.

Since the IAF already operates 51 Mirage 2000 fighters, the inclusion of Rafale would require fewer changes in the existing infrastructure of the air force which in turn will reduce cost.

The Transfer of Technology (ToT) clause, as underlined in the MMRCA deal, is also going to be smooth and easy with no end user restrictions.

Of all the global deals Rafale is contesting at present, IAF's MMRCA deal is the biggest in terms of value and the number of aircraft to be sold.

As per the Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by the Indian Defence Ministry, the winner of the MMRCA contract will have to supply 18 of the 126 aircraft to the IAF in 36 months from its facilities and the remaining would be produced in India at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd's Bangalore facility.

All Rafale fighters produced so far have been inducted only in the French Air Force and French Navy.

With the MMRCA deal win, the warplane is now going to equip and strengthen world's fourth largest air force, the IAF.

Clinching the mega defence deal has surely made Rafale a big winner!


Rafale

Specifications
Dimension

Wingspan

Length

Height

Weight

 

10.90 m

15.30 m

5.30 m

10 t (overall empty weight)

24.5 t (maximum take-off weight)

Engine

 

2 × Snecma M88-2 turbofans

Performance

Speed

 

Range

Combat radius

Mach 1.8+ (high altitude)

1,390 km/h (low altitude)

3,700+ km

1,852+ km

Crew

 

1-2

Armaments

 

Missiles

 

 

Other weapons

 

 

MICA air-to-air BVR

SCALP long-range air-to-ground

Exocet air-to-ground

METEOR long-range air-to-air (to be equipped in future)

Laser-guided bombs

Unguided bombs

NEXTER 30M791 30 mm internal cannon


Tags:

MMRCA  Dassault  Rafale  IAF  
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