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Here's why Rafale fighter aircraft can become a game changer for India with Sukhoi Su-30MKI

In a massive boost for Indian Air Force, five Rafale fighter aircraft took off from France's Istres airbase on Monday (July 27) for India. These fighter jets are scheduled to land at Ambala Air Force Station on Wednesday (July 29) after covering a distance of almost 7,364 kilometres.

  • Five Rafale fighter aircraft took off from France's Istres airbase on Monday (July 27) for India.
  • These fighter jets are scheduled to land at Ambala Air Force Station on Wednesday (July 29) after covering a distance of almost 7,364 kilometres.
  • The five Rafale are the first batch of the 36 supersonic omnirole combat aircraft that India is buying from France.

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In a massive boost for Indian Air Force, five Rafale fighter aircraft took off from France's Istres airbase on Monday (July 27) for India. These fighter jets are scheduled to land at Ambala Air Force Station on Wednesday (July 29) after covering a distance of almost 7,364 kilometres.

The five Rafale are the first batch of the 36 supersonic omnirole combat aircraft that India is buying from France. The aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons. European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and SCALP air-to-ground cruise missile will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets.

At present, the Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKIs form the backbone of IAF fighter fleet and the force flies 272 of the twin-seater, twin-engine multirole combat aircraft. There are 272 Su-30MKIs in service and some of them have been modified to carry the supersonic BrahMos air-launched cruise missiles.

Here are the salient features of Rafale and Sukhoi Su-30MKIs jets and why the combination of these two fighter jets will prove to be a game changer for Indian armed forces.

Rafale fighter aircraft

-The Rafale can fly at speeds of 1.8 mach (2,222.6km per hour) and it has a range of 3,700 km 

- It has multi-directional radar which can detect 40 targets at the same time in a range of over 100 kms.  

- It has Spectra, an integrated defence aid system which can jam or counter-jam enemy radar signals. 

- It can carry six AASM missiles at a time 

- In a dogfight between Rafale and F-16, Rafale has an edge since it can load more weapons than F-16s. 

- The Rafale will not have to cross the Indian airspace to hit a target that is about 600 km in enemy territory. 

- It can carry 9,500kg of bombs and munitions. This is more than the Sukhoi 30 MK1, which can carry loads of up to 8,000kg. 

- The Rafale can carry the Meteor missile, a next-gen beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of hitting targets that are even 100km away with pinpoint accuracy. 

- It can also carry the SCALP missile, a subsonic air-to-surface missile that can strike stationary assets. 

- The aircraft has a cannon that can fire 2,500 rounds per minute.  

Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jet

- The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is the most advanced fighter jet in operation with the Indian Air Force and is the primary air to air and air to ground strike machine. 

- Su-30 MKI is built in India by HAL under license agreement with Russia’s Sukhoi.

- The Sukhoi Su-30MKI has a top speed of Mach 2 (2120 kmph) and has a maximum takeoff weight of 38,800 kg. 

- The jet can carry a wide range of equipment from radars to missiles, bombs and event rockets.

- Twin seater twin engine multirole fighter of Russian origin which carries One X 30mm GSH gun along with 8000 kg external armament.

- Weapon carrying capacity: It is capable of carrying a variety of medium-range guided air to air missiles with active or semi-active radar or Infrared homing close range missiles.

- It can be used in carrying out nuclear strikes.

- The Su-30 MKI aircraft is capable of being refuelled by an Air to Air refuelling aircraft or by another Su-30 MKI aircraft carrying a buddy refuelling strap on pod.

- It has feature of super-maneuverability, meaning that the airplane can aim at any direction within seconds to fire an air-to-air missile without changing its bearing. Super-maneuverability can be used in many situations during a mission.

- The aircraft features a Russian radar and optic locator, French navigation and heads-up display systems, Israeli EW and weapon-guidance systems, and Indian computers.

- India's Su-30MKI multi-role fighter-bomber is one of the best 4 generation aircraft currently available.

- Its extended range capability along with its payload capacity are important assets for India to perform deep strike attacks in Pakistan and China.
 
Why Rafale and Sukhoi 30 will be a game changer for India

Rafale is categorised as a 4.5 generation aircraft for its radar-evading stealth profile, while India’s Mirage 2000 and the Su-30 MkI  are classified as either third or fourth-generation fighters. 

Notably, Pakistan has the multi-role F-16 in its inventory which is comparable to Mirage 2000, so we will have better technology than Pakistan plus the numbers will be much more. Pakistan has 32 F-16 and India is acquiring 36 Rafale in fly away condition. 

Rafale  will have the ability to take off from high altitude airbases like Leh on a 'cold start' - for quick reaction deployment. Rafale is going to boost the IAF's capabilities as it comes loaded with with 13 India specific enhancements 

Rafale will need only around 8 minutes to reach Lahore from Ambala at top speed and 3 minutes from Hasimara Air Force Station in West Bengal to China border. 

So, the combination of Rafale and Su-30 MKI along with the BrahMos will be a gamechanger as these fighter jets will extensively enhance the attacking capabilities of the IAF.

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