More Rafales for India : Best Course Of Action

More Rafales for India : Best Course Of Action


More Rafales for India : Best Course Of Action


Colonel Awadhesh Kumar

With China comparing its J20 fighters with F35, India has no option but to strengthen the IAF. We are fully aware, and PLAAF too, that our Rafales are capable of not only taking on the J20s but may be even outclassing them. However just a Squadron each ie 18 fighters for each North Western Theatre and Eastern Theatre are just too less.

Though a prohibiting factor for the Rafales may be the cost. However at the bases where Rafales have been deployed, we don’t have to spend much on the required infrastructure. Also many sensors and components and missiles of the additional Rafales will be indigenous, thus bringing down the overall cost. Thus it will be more prudent for India and the IAF to go in for another two squadrons of Rafales. Still better will be to go in for four squadrons because then they may be supplied through MAKE IN INDIA.

Also the Navy is soon going to commission the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant by August 2022. Though for the time being there are enough MiG 29s to operate from both the aircraft carriers, there is need to look at the future too.

 It seems there is a heartening news that the Navy will be conducting flight trials of Rafale-Maritime fighter at Shore Based Test Facility at INS Hansa in Goa from January onwards as part of its exercise to identify the best warplane to suit the 40,000 tonne carrier. The IAC-1 still with the Cochin shipyard is currently undergoing intensive sea trials in the Arabian, prior to its handing over to the Navy

Meanwhile the Rafale-M fighter too will undergo intensive trial at the 283 metre mock-up ski jump facility at INS Hansa. The two weeks trials will indicate its suitability for our future INS VIKRANT. The Rafale M fighter is the main fighter for French Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier.

Though the Indian Navy is also planning to test US F-18 Hornet fighter at the same facility later as another alternative option. Being vintage and most important being American, it needs to be discarded straight away because they will come with strings attached, to which we Indians Now need to display intense dislike. The F18s probably will not fit in the hangars of VIKRANT anyway. Also the two squadrons of MiG29 are any day as good if not better. All their maintenance problems etc have been rectified up to the satisfaction of the Indian Navy.

What is instead required is that, the MoD should straight way order the HAL to start manufacturing 20 Naval version of the LCA. These LCAs will not only help train our naval pilots but will also help the Navy to gain valuable experience covering the entire envelope of naval aviation. These LCAs will also be a formidable gap filler till the arrival of Naval Rafales and of course the Naval Tejas Mk2. It is the Naval Tejas Mk2 which will the fighter for our second indigenous onwards aircraft carriers ….We need to dream big for India’s Ocean, I mean the Indian Ocean !!

According to Aeronautical Development Agency, the first flight trial of the indigenous twin engine fighter ie the Naval Tejas mk2 is expected before 2026 and induction into Indian Navy before 2031.

As INS Vikrant is expected to be commissioned in Aug 2022, coinciding with the 75th year of Indian independence, there the Indian Navy must ask HAL to handover the 2x Naval Tejas Mk1 and also get the French Got lease 2or 4 Rafale – M immediately, so that the aircraft carrier can fly them on being commissioned along with the MiG29s.