Air Force declines to share details on Rafale deal. Details of the agreement signed between Indian and French authorities regarding supply of 36 Rafale aircraft cannot be disclosed as they are confidential in nature, the Air Force has said.
An Inter-Governmental Agreement was signed between the governments of India and France on September 23, 2016 for supply of the Rafale aircraft, initial consignment of weapons, long-term maintenance support through performance-based logistics, simulators with annual maintenance and associated equipment.
Replying to an RTI query, the Air Force said the details are held by it in fiduciary capacity.
The information sought is confidential in nature and public revelation of the same may lead to its subsequent availability to our adversaries, it said.
“Further, the information sought is also held in fiduciary capacity and no larger public interest is served by disclosure of such information. Hence, the same is denied,” the Air Force said in reply to the application filed by PTI.
The Defence Ministry was asked to provide copies of the agreement and price of the Rafale deal. The query was then forwarded to the Air Force for providing the reply.
The delivery of 36 Rafale aircraft, weapons and associated equipment to India will commence from September 2019. The deliveries are spread over two and half years, with the last aircraft delivery scheduled in April 2022.
All about Dassault Rafale
The Dassault Rafale (literally meaning “gust of wind”, and “burst of fire” in a more military sense) is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.
Many of the aircraft’s avionics and features, such as direct voice input, the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the optronique secteur frontal infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, were domestically developed and produced for the Rafale programme. Originally scheduled to enter service in 1996, the Rafale suffered significant delays due to post-Cold War budget cuts and changes in priorities. The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.
Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and it has been selected for purchase by the Indian Air Force, the Egyptian Air Force, and the Qatar Air Force. The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Several upgrades to the weapons and avionics of the Rafale are planned to be introduced by 2018.
Technology demonstrator, first flew in 1986.
Dassault used this designation (D for discrète) in the early 1990s to emphasise the new semi-stealthy design features.
Two-seater version for the French Air Force.
Single-seat version for the French Air Force.
Carrier-borne version for the French Naval Aviation, which entered service in 2001. For carrier operations, the M model has a strengthened airframe, longer nose gear leg to provide a more nose-up attitude, larger tailhook between the engines, and a built-in boarding ladder. Consequently, the Rafale M weighs about 500 kg (1,100 lb) more than the Rafale C. It is the only non-US fighter type cleared to operate from the decks of US carriers, using catapults and their arresting gear, as demonstrated in 2008 when six Rafales from Flottille 12F integrated into the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Air Wing interoperability exercise.
Originally called the Rafale BM, was a planned missile-only two-seater version for the Aéronavale. Budgetary and technical constraints have been cited as grounds for its cancellation.
Proposed reconnaissance-oriented variant.
Two-seater version for the Egyptian Air Force.
Single-seat version for the Egyptian Air Force.
Single-seat version for the Indian Air Force.
The Rafale was developed as a modern jet fighter with a very high level of agility; Dassault chose to combine a delta wing with active close-coupled canard to maximize manoeuvrability. The aircraft is capable of withstanding from −3.6g to 9g (10.5g on Rafale solo display and a maximum of 11g can be reached in case of emergency). The Rafale is an aerodynamically unstable aircraft and uses digital fly-by-wire flight controls to artificially enforce and maintain stability.
The aircraft’s canards also act to reduce the minimum landing speed to 115 knots (213 km/h; 132 mph); while in flight, airspeeds as low as 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) have been observed during training missions. According to simulations by Dassault, the Rafale has sufficient low speed performance to operate from STOBAR-configured aircraft carriers, and can take off using a ski-jump with no modifications.
Although not a full-aspect stealth aircraft, the cost of which was viewed as unacceptably excessive, the Rafale was designed for a reduced radar cross-section (RCS) and infrared signature . In order to reduce the RCS, changes from the initial technology demonstrator include a reduction in the size of the tail-fin, fuselage reshaping, repositioning of the engine air inlets underneath the aircraft’s wing, and the extensive use of composite materials and serrated patterns for the construction of the trailing edges of the wings and canards. 70% of the Rafale’s surface area is composite. Many of the features designed to reduce the Rafale’s visibility to threats remain classified.
employment of different construction material:
The Rafale’s glass cockpit was designed around the principle of data fusion – a central computer intelligently selects and prioritises information to display to pilots for simpler command and control. The primary flight controls are arranged in a hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS)-compatible configuration, with a right-handed side-stick controller and a left-handed throttle. The seat is inclined rearwards at an angle of 29° to improve g-force tolerance during manoeuvring and to provide a less restricted external pilot view. An intelligent flight suit worn by the pilot is automatically controlled by the aircraft to counteract in response to calculated g-forces.
Great emphasis has been placed on pilot workload minimisation across all operations. Among the features of the highly digitised cockpit is an integrated direct voice input (DVI) system, allowing a range of aircraft functions to be controlled by spoken voice commands, simplifying the pilot’s access to many of the controls. Developed by Crouzet, the DVI is capable of managing radio communications and countermeasures systems, the selection of armaments and radar modes, and controlling navigational functions. For safety reasons, DVI is deliberately not employed for safety-critical elements of the aircraft’s operation, such as the final release of armaments.
For displaying information gathered from a range of sensors across the aircraft, the cockpit features a wide-angle holographic head-up display (HUD) system, two head-down flat-panel colour multi-function displays (MFDs) as well as a central collimated display. These displays have been strategically placed to minimise pilot distraction from the external environment. Some displays feature a touch interface for ease of Human–computer interaction (HCI). A head-mounted display (HMD) remains to be integrated to take full advantage of its MICA missiles. The cockpit is fully compatible with night vision goggles (NVG).
In the area of life-support, the Rafale is fitted with a Martin-Baker Mark 16F “zero-zero” ejection seat, capable of operation at zero speed and zero altitude. An on-board oxygen generating system, developed by Air Liquide, eliminates the need to carry bulky oxygen canisters. The Rafale’s flight computer has been programmed to counteract pilot disorientation and to employ automatic recovery of the aircraft during negative flight conditions. The auto-pilot and autothrottle controls are also integrated, and are activated by switches located on the primary flight controls.
Avionics and equipment
The Rafale core avionics systems employ an integrated modular avionics (IMA), called MDPU (modular data processing unit). This architecture hosts all the main aircraft functions such as the flight management system, data fusion, fire control, and the man-machine interface. The total value of the radar, electronic communications and self-protection equipment is about 30 percent of the cost of the entire aircraft. The IMA has since been installed upon several upgraded Mirage 2000 fighters, and incorporated into the civilian airliner, the Airbus A380. According to Dassault, the IMA greatly assists combat operations via data fusion, the continuous integration and analysis of the various sensor systems throughout the aircraft, and has been designed for the incorporation of new systems and avionics throughout the Rafale’s service life.
The Rafale features an integrated defensive-aids system named SPECTRA, which protects the aircraft against airborne and ground threats, developed as a joint venture between Thales and MBDA. Various methods of detection, jamming, and decoying have been incorporated, and the system has been designed to be highly re-programmable for addressing new threats and incorporating additional sub-systems in the future. Operations over Libya were greatly assisted by SPECTRA, allowing Rafales to perform missions independently from the support of dedicated Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) platforms.
The Rafale’s ground attack capability is heavily reliant upon sensory targeting pods, such as Thales Optronics’s Reco New Generation/Areos reconnaissance pod and Damocles electro-optical/laser designation pod. Together, these systems provide targeting information, enable tactical reconnaissance missions, and are integrated with the Rafale’s IMA architecture to provide analysed data feeds to friendly units and ground stations, as well as to the pilot. Damocles provides targeting information to the various armaments carried by the Rafale and is directly integrated with the Rafale’s VHF/UHF secure radio to communicate target information with other aircraft. It also performs other key functions such as aerial optical surveillance and is integrated with the navigation system as a FLIR.
The Damocles designation pod were described as “lacking competitiveness” when compared to rivals such as the Sniper and LITENING pods; so work began on an upgraded pod, designated Damocles XF, with additional sensors and added ability to transmit live video feeds. A new Thales targeting pod, the Talios, was officially unveiled at the 2014 Farnborough Air Show and is expected to be integrated on the Rafale by 2018. Thales’ Areos reconnaissance pod is an all-weather, night-and-day-capable reconnaissance system employed on the Rafale, and provides a significantly improved reconnaissance capability over preceding platforms. Areos has been designed to perform reconnaissance under various mission profiles and condition, using multiple day/night sensors and its own independent communications datalinks.
Radar and sensors
The Rafale was first outfitted with the Thales RBE2 passive electronically scanned multi-mode radar. Thales claims to have achieved increased levels of situational awareness as compared to earlier aircraft through the earlier detection and tracking of multiple air targets for close combat and long-range interception, as well as real-time generation of three-dimensional maps for terrain-following and the real-time generation of high resolution ground maps for navigation and targeting. In early 1994, it was reported that technical difficulties with the radar had delayed the Rafale’s development by six months. In September 2006, Flight International reported the Rafale’s unit cost had significantly increased due to additional development work to improve the RBE2’s detection range.
The RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar now replaces the previous passively scanned RBE2. The RBE2 AA is reported to deliver a greater detection range of 200 km, improved reliability and reduced maintenance demands over the preceding radar. A Rafale demonstrator began test flights in 2002 and has totaled 100 flight hours as of December 2011. By December 2009, production of the pre-series RBE2 AA radars was underway. In early October 2012, the first Rafale equipped with an RBE2 AA radar arrived at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base for operational service (the development was described by Thales and Dassault as “on time and on budget”). By early 2014, the first Air Force front-line squadron were supposed to receive Rafales equipped with the AESA radar, following the French Navy which was slated to receive AESA-equipped Rafales starting in 2013.
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. In 2012, an improved version of the OSF was deployed operationally.
French navel aviation
French air force
The Rafale was one of the six aircraft competing in the Indian MRCA competition for 126 multirole fighters. Originally, the Mirage 2000 had been considered for the competition, but Dassault withdrew it in favour of the Rafale. In February 2011, French Rafales flew demonstrations in India, including air-to-air combat against Su-30MKIs. In April 2011, the Indian Air Force (IAF) shortlisted the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon for the US$10.4 billion contract. On 31 January 2012, the IAF announced the Rafale as the preferred bidder. It was proposed that 18 Rafales would be supplied to the IAF by 2015 in fly-away condition, while the remaining 108 would be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India under transfer of technology agreements. The contract for 126 Rafales, services, and parts may have been worth up to US$20 billion.
The deal stalled due to disagreements over production in India. Dassault refused to take responsibility for the 108 HAL-manufactured Rafales, as it had reservations about the ability of HAL to accommodate the complex manufacturing and technology transfers of the aircraft. Instead, Dassault said it would have to negotiate two separate production contracts by both companies. The Indian Defence Ministry instead wanted Dassault to be solely responsible for the sale and delivery of all 126 aircraft. In May 2013, The Times of India reported that negotiations were “back on track”, with plans for the first 18 Rafales to be delivered in 2017. Another point of contention was a provision where Dassault was to reinvest 50 percent of the deal’s earnings into India’s defence sectors, either through purchases or technological expertise. In March 2014, the two sides were reported to have agreed that the first 18 aircraft would be delivered to India in flying condition and that the remaining 108 would be 70 percent built by HAL. In December 2014, it was reported that India and France expect to sign a contract by March 2015.
In April 2015, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris, India requested the rapid delivery of 36 Rafales in fly-away condition. Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar stated that these will be inducted into the IAF within two years. India officially withdrew the 126-aircraft MMRCA tender on 30 July 2015. Shortly after, India and France missed the July target of finalising the 36-aircraft agreement. The previously-agreed-upon terms in April totaled US$8 billion for 36 aircraft costing $200 million each, with an offset requirement of 30 percent of the deal’s value for France to reinvest in India’s defense sector and create infrastructure in India for the Rafale to operate. India is insisting on a 50 percent offset and two bases, which France says will increase price and require separate infrastructure and two sets of maintenance, training, and armament storage facilities.
In January 2016, the Indian government directed the Indian Navy to undertake detailed briefings with Dassault regarding the Rafale, in a potential start to procurement of the naval version for its aircraft carriers. The government wants commonalities between logistics and spares for fighters with the Navy and Air Force, which could lead to a buy of 54 naval fighters.
On 23 September 2016, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian signed the contract for the purchase of 36 off-the-shelf Rafales in a deal worth €7.8 billion with an option for 18 more at the same inflation-adjusted price. The first Rafales are expected to be delivered by 2019, and India is set to have all 36 jets within six years. The deal includes weapons and spares; the aircraft will be equipped with Meteor BVRAAM missiles.
Length: 15.27 m (50.1 ft)
Wingspan: 10.80 m (35.4 ft)
Height: 5.34 m (17.5 ft)
Wing area: 45.7 m² (492 ft²)
10,300 kilograms (22,700 lb) (B)
9,850 kilograms (21,720 lb) (C)
10,600 kilograms (23,400 lb) (M)
Loaded weight: 15,000 kilograms (33,000 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 24,500 kilograms (54,000 lb) (B/C/D)
Fuel capacity: 4,700 kg (10,360 lb) internal
Powerplant: 2 × Snecma M88-2 turbofans
Dry thrust: 50.04 kN (11,250 lbf) each
Thrust with afterburner: 75.62 kN (17,000 lbf) each
High altitude: Mach 1.8 (1,912 km/h, 1,032 knots)
Low altitude: Mach 1.1 (1,390 km/h, 750 knots)
Range: 3,700+ km (2,000+ nmi) with 3 drop tanks
Combat radius: 1,852+ km (1,000+ nmi) on penetration mission
Service ceiling: 15,235 m (50,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 304.8+ m/s (60,000+ ft/min)
Wing loading: 328 kg/m² (67.1 lb/ft²)
Thrust/weight: 0.988 (100% fuel, 2 EM A2A missile, 2 IR A2A missile) version B
Maximum g-load: +9/–3.6 g
Guns: 1× 30 mm (1.18 in) GIAT 30/M791 autocannon with 125 rounds
Hardpoints: 14 for Air Force versions (Rafale B/C), 13 for Navy version (Rafale M) with a capacity of 9,500 kg (20,900 lb) external fuel and ordnance and provisions to carry combinations of:
MBDA MICA IR or EM
MBDA Meteor in the future
MBDA Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG
GBU-12 Paveway II, GBU-22 Paveway III, GBU-24 Paveway III, GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II
MBDA AM 39-Exocet anti-ship missile
ASMP-A nuclear missile
Thales Damocles targeting pod
Thales AREOS (Airborne Recce Observation System) reconnaissance pod
Thales TALIOS multi-function targeting pod in the future (F3R Standard)
Up to 5 drop tanks
Buddy-buddy refuelling pod