Boosting Indian Air Force, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday has received the first aircraft out of the 36 Rafale jets at the Merignac airbase in France. While the new addition will give a decisive edge to India's Defence system, these Rafale jets are also custom-made according to Indian requirements. There are 13 specific enhancements made to the Rafale jet, which are unique to India, putting the country in its own league. The Defence Minister, after performing a Shastra Puja, undertook a sortie in the first Rafale jet.
Earlier in the day, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on Tuesday undertook a sortie in IAF's new Rafale jet at the Merignac airbase in France. He was guided by Philippe Duchateau - head test pilot of Dassault Aviation. The sortie lasted for 35 minutes and the Defence Minister termed it an 'unforgettable' experience. Singh also expressed his joy at being able to fly at supersonic speed. He also informed that the jet was capable of engaging in air-air combat and air-land combat.
The Defence Minister officially took over India's first Rafale jet at the Merignac airbase from the French Defence Minister in Bordeaux, France. Prior to the handing-over ceremony, he performed a 'Shastra puja' marking the auspicious Vijaya Dasami. The handing over ceremony was preceded by Singh's 35-minute long meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at Elysee Palace, Paris. He also met with his French counterpart in Paris.
The Rafale is fitted with 14 hardpoints. Its total external load capacity is more than 9 tonnes. Hence, it can lift the equivalent of its own empty weight in payloads. Its loitering capacity is 1.5 times that of the Sukhoi. The range is 780 to 1055 km as against 400-550 km of a Sukhoi jet. Similarly, the Rafale jet can engage in 5 sorties per 24 hours against 3 by the Sukhoi. Moreover, The Rafale is powered by two SNECMA M88 engines, which helps it attain a range of more than 3,700 km. Having a top speed of 2223 km, it is equipped with laser-guided bombs weighing 900 kg. 2500 rounds per minute can be fired from its internal cannon. Rafale considered as a 4.5 generation aircraft will now lead the IAF's fighter jets. Also, Rafale maintenance time per flight hour is 2.25 hours against 6-8 hrs for other fighters.