Rafale Carries a Deadly Punch
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.