Did India surprise the US by opting for France’s Rafale M over the F/A-18?

As a top competitor for a multibillion-dollar deal to supply 26 fighter jets fighting for the Indian Navy, France’s Rafale M fighter jet surpasses the US F/A-18 Super Hornet.

As part of the Multirole Carrier Fighter (MRCBF) programme for the Indian Navy, the Indian government has chosen to purchase 26 Dassault Rafale M fighter aircraft from France.

In January and June 2022, respectively, Dassault and Boeing presented the characteristics of their respective fighter jets at a testing site. The Indian Navy is claimed to have presented a thorough report on Rafale and Super Hornet to the Ministry of Defense to make a final judgement on the purchase, according to an Indian official familiar with the matter.

The French Rafale M is claimed to be more appropriate in satisfying the specifications and performance parameters than the Super Hornet, according to the article. Until the industry continues to develop its own carrier-based fighter programme under the TEDBF programme, the procurement of 26 fighter jets is merely a short-term fix.

It is known that the first TEDBF prototype will fly in 2026, that it will be of the fifth generation, and that it will be smaller than the Russian MiG-29K.

The French company Dassault Aviation developed and produced the fourth-generation Rafale, a multipurpose fighter aircraft. Rafale has been a mainstay of the French Air Force since the early 2000s.

The Rafale is 15.27 metres long, 10.8 metres wide, and 5.34 metres tall. The aircraft can carry up to 24.5 tonnes during takeoff and has an empty weight of 10.6 tonnes. The fighter can be used for many different tasks, such as reconnaissance, ground assault, and tactical nuclear bombing.

Two Smecma M88 jet engines, with a combined thrust of 72.9 kN with afterburner, power the Rafale. With a battle radius of 50 kilometres, the engine’s sophisticated fuel control system enhances thrust and lets it fly at a top speed of up to 1,913 km/h.

The Rafale is equipped with cutting-edge avionics, such as new generation radar; the Spectra countermeasure system, which has sensors placed all around the aircraft and which provides threat detection, identification, and identification; and OSF, an anti-interference passive optoelectronic monitoring and imaging system with laser rangefinder.

The Rafale also has a contemporary cockpit with sizable LCD screens that display comprehensive information about the aircraft’s surroundings, weaponry, and fuel.

The Rafale M is a carrier-based version that is equipped with a robust landing gear, a sizable tail hook, and an integrated cockpit ladder that can be powered up. It is also compatible with Telemir inertial platforms and microwave carrier landing systems, making it well suited for the challenging conditions of carrier operations.

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