Rafale and Rafael are the latest buzzwords in India’s military circles. And together, they could increase the country’s military might and ensure India’s dominance in South Asia and beyond.
To begin with, the French Dassault Rafales are the latest addition to the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) fighter fleet and the Israeli defense firm Rafael (not to be confused with Dassault Rafale) has provided the much-needed boost to India’s firepower by supplying various munitions.
The Indian Air Force’s 2019 Balakot airstrikes changed the geopolitical equation and projected India as an emerging Asian power willing to go the extra mile to combat terrorism.
The precision strike aircraft used by the IAF was a French Dassault Mirage-2000 armed with Israeli Rafael-made SPICE 2000 precision munitions. That time too, the French-Israeli amalgamation worked for the IAF and will continue to in the future.
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The latest addition to Indian Air Force’s strike fleet, the French Rafale fighters, are manufactured by the same Dassault company which made the Mirage-2000.
A twin-engine omnirole combat aircraft, the Rafale is a 4.5 generation fighter jet with a delta wing and canard design capable of air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions armed with advanced weaponry including air-launched cruise missiles.
After a direct ferry from #MerignacAirBase, France, the 5th batch of Rafales arrived in India on 21 Apr. The fighters flew a distance of almost 8,000Kms with air-to-air refuelling support by @Armee_de_lair and UAE AF. IAF thanks both the Air Forces for their co-operation. pic.twitter.com/jp81vODCp2
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) April 21, 2021
India had signed an order for 36 Rafales back in 2016 in a government-to-government deal for an estimated cost of €7.8 billion.
The Rafales are combat-proven and have been used extensively in Afghanistan and Libya The aircraft are also being used in combating Jihadist Terrorists in Mali and against the Islamic State in Syria.
Earlier this month The EurAsian Times reported France is developing an advanced version of its Rafale fighter aircraft that would come with enhanced stealth, powerful electronic warfare systems, and new weapons.
The F4 generation of the Dassault Rafale is backed by an investment of $2.3 billion by the French defense ministry, announced in January 2019.
According to defense journalist Younis Dar, the French company has even offered the F4 version to India, where the demand for the latest generation aircraft remains high.
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Israeli Firm, Rafael
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., or commonly known as Rafael, is an Israeli defense technology company, which develops and manufactures missiles and military technology.
These military products are advanced and have been combat-tested with robust operational history including the venerable Iron Dome air defense system and missiles like Python and Derby.
A variety of ammunition used by the Indian Air Force is made by Rafael, including Python air-to-air missiles, Derby beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAM), spice bombs among others.
Video of Python-5 firing from Tejas pic.twitter.com/45omOdzWes
— DRDO (@DRDO_India) April 28, 2021
Recently, the IAF test-fired Python-5 and Derby AAM from its latest Tejas fighter jet, marking a significant achievement for the service. The IAF also operates SAM system based on these missiles named SPYDER (Surface to air PYthon and DERby).
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Notably, SPYDER was used by the IAF to destroy a Pakistani drone during Balakot airstrikes. However, the next day, an Indian fighter jet mistakenly shot down a friendly Mi-17V5 over Kashmir.
Also, the Indian Army had been evaluating the Spike anti-tank and anti-personnel guided-missile made by Rafael.
Rafael's I-Derby ER BVR will be ready for integration trials on leading fighter jet particularly, Mirage-2000, Sukhoi-30MKI, and LCA-Tejas if IAF desires so said company official as IAF plans to replace Russian made R-77 BVRAAMs on frontline fighters like Sukhoi-30. pic.twitter.com/RMbbuY8GAa
— Aerodynamics (@Aerodynamic111) June 2, 2020
Nevertheless, the Israeli weapon systems have been an important asset for the Indian Air Force’s strike inventory.
Not just the Indian Air Force, Rafael has been involved in various technological advancements like the Protector USV — the world’s first Unmanned Surface Vehicle, and Trophy — the world’s only operational active protection system, which was combat tested when it stopped an anti-tank missile launched from the Gaza Strip toward a Merkava Mark IV tank near Nir Oz.
These combat-proven and battle-hardened Israeli systems have been lauded worldwide and hold many records. For instance, the Iron Dome air defense system has achieved an effectiveness rate of over 90%.
This combination of Rafale and Rafael goes well with the enhancement of the Indian Air Force’s strike capabilities, and we could surely see Rafale escorted by Rafael-made ammunition equipped Flankers and Mirages making for the most superior and lethal combination in South Asia.