HomeIndiaIndia to test Rafale-M for INS Vikrant in Goa

India to test Rafale-M for INS Vikrant in Goa

At the INS Hansa in Goa, a shore-based test facility, India will test the Rafale-M (Marine) jet for deployment on the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier as well as the indigenous aircraft carrier 1 (IAC1), which will be deployed as the INS Vikrant, on Friday. The test aircraft arrived on Thursday.

The Rafale-M is the Rafale’s standard naval version, which is the F4 counterpart. The Rafale jet’s maritime variant has a stronger undercarriage and nose wheel, a larger arrester hook, an integrated ladder, and other minor differences from the Indian Air Force’s present Rafale.

For various reasons, according to persons acquainted with the situation, the Rafale-M is better suited for deployment aboard aircraft carriers than the US F18 Hornet fighter. They pointed out that it can fit into the Vikramaditya’s lift bay, whereas the F18 cannot, even with folded wings, fit into the Vikramaditya’s lift bay. Because of the Rafale-size, M’s 14 of them can fit on the deck of the Vikramaditya, compared to 10 or 11 F18s.

It also necessitates just minor modifications to the Vikramaditya’s wheel-chokes, which are reversible and may be removed if necessary.

For a ski take-off, the Rafale-M can carry up to four-five tonnes of external weight (with full internal fuel). It can carry more weaponry with less internal fuel, depending on mission requirements. With full internal fuel, it can perform all duties, including combat air patrol, intercept, AD escort, as well as sea and land strike.

Officials acquainted with the situation further stated that, unlike the F18s, which require the carriers to be modified with a new carrier optical landing system, the Rafale Ms may use the Vikramaditya’s current system.

One of the people noted that having a similar platform across the navy and the Air Force is also advantageous. Apart from logistical and maintenance synergies, Indian Navy pilots might be trained aboard IAF Rafales for “speedier induction,” according to this source.

In March, the navy will most likely test the F18s at the same location.

The Vikrant is expected to be commissioned by August 15, and India may seek to lease four or five Rafale-M aircraft for rapid deployment if the Rafale-M is chosen. Two squadrons of aged MiG-29s are now assigned to the Vikramaditya.

The Rafale-M jet being tested is the most recent variant of the fighter, including India-specific upgrades. It can carry nuclear weapons and is equipped with Meteor air-to-air missiles, SCALP air-to-ground missiles, and Hammer precision guided ammunition.