Rafale Car­ries a Deadly Punch

India Strategic - - AIR FORCE DAY SPECIAL -

OUT­FIT­TED WITH as many as 14 hard­points, Rafale can carry a lethal mix of stores to give it long reach cou­pled with both air-to-air and air-to-sur­face sta­teof-the-art weapons to give it true omni-role ca­pa­bil­ity. These in­clude two sta­tions on fuse­lage cen­ter­line, two be­neath en­gine air in­takes, two astride rear fuse­lage, six un­der wings and two at wing tips. Five of these are suit­able for heavy ar­ma­ments or equip­ment such as aux­il­iary fuel tanks, and has a max­i­mum ex­ter­nal load ca­pac­ity of nine tonnes.

IAF Rafales will adorn the lat­est RBE2 AA ac­tive elec­tron­i­cally scanned ar­ray (AESA) radar with a de­tec­tion range in ac­cess of 200 km. This will not only en­hance over­all sit­u­a­tional aware­ness but com­bined with MBDA’s BVR (Be­yond Vis­ual Range) Me­teor will also triple the ex­ist­ing air-to-air kill range at a phe­nom­e­nal 150 km.

In ad­di­tion, to en­able the Rafale to per­form in the air supremacy role, it in­cludes sev­eral pas­sive sen­sor sys­tems. The front-sec­tor elec­tro-op­ti­cal sys­tem or Op­tron­ique Secteur Frontal (OSF), de­vel­oped by Thales, is com­pletely in­te­grated within the air­craft and can op­er­ate both in the vis­i­ble and in­frared wave­lengths. The OSF en­ables the de­ploy­ment of in­frared mis­siles such as the MICA at be­yond vis­ual range dis­tances; it can also be used for de­tect­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing air­borne tar­gets, as well as those on the ground and at sea. Das­sault de­scribes the OSF as be­ing im­mune to jam­ming and ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing covert long-range sur­veil­lance.

Rafale is also equipped to carry out pre­ci­sion ground at­tacks typ­i­cally us­ing SCALP EG cruise mis­siles and AASM Ham­mer airto- sur­face ar­ma­ments. In ad­di­tion, anti- ship­ping mis­sions could be car­ried out us­ing the AM39 Ex­o­cet sea skim­ming mis­sile, while re­con­nais­sance flights would use a com­bi­na­tion of on­board and ex­ter­nal pod-based sen­sor equip­ment. Fur­ther­more, the air­craft will have the ca­pa­bil­ity to carry in­dige­nous nu­clear weapons to in­crease the cred­i­bil­ity of the air leg of In­dia’s nu­clear triad ca­pa­bil­ity.

Com­pat­i­bil­ity with ar­ma­ments of vary­ing types and ori­gins, the Rafale’s on­board store man­age­ment sys­tem is com­pli­ant with MILSTD-1760, an elec­tri­cal in­ter­face be­tween an air­craft and its car­riage stores, thereby sim­pli­fy­ing the in­cor­po­ra­tion of many of IAF’s ex­ist­ing and fu­tur­is­tic weapons and equip­ment in ad­di­tion to what it ac­quires from French re­sources.

In ad­di­tion to the above equip­ment, the Rafale car­ries the 30 mm GIAT 30 DEFA can­non and can be out­fit­ted with a range of laser­guided bombs and ground-at­tack mu­ni­tions. Ac­cord­ing to Das­sault, the Rafale’s on­board mis­sion sys­tems en­able ground at­tack and airto-air com­bat op­er­a­tions to be car­ried out within a sin­gle sor­tie, with many func­tions ca­pa­ble of si­mul­ta­ne­ous ex­e­cu­tion in con­junc­tion with an­other, in­creas­ing sur­viv­abil­ity and ver­sa­til­ity.

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