Dassault Rafale :: Is It Best Multirole Combat Fighter in the World


The Dassault Rafale is a French Twin-Engine,Canard Delta wing,Mulitrole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation for wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence.

The aircraft were developed for the French Air Force and Navy. France’s Air Force and Navy ordered 180 (132 for the air force and 48 for the navy), 100 aircraft had been delivered by the end of 2010.The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006.

The RAFALE, with its “OMNIROLE” capabilities, is the right answer to the capability approach selected by an increasing number of governments.

It fully complies with the requirement to carry out the widest range of roles with the smallest number of aircraft.

The RAFALE participates in permanent “Quick Reaction Alert” (QRA) / air-defence / air sovereignty missions, power projection and deployments for external missions, deep strike missions, air support for ground forces, reconnaissance missions, pilot training sorties and nuclear deterrence duties.

The People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist newspaper, says the sale of the Rafale fighter plane ‘encourages, excites and spurs India’s appetite and ambition to become a great military power while intensifying its aggressive and expansionist tendencies, which poses a serious threat to peace and stability in Asia.’


India Deal to introduce Dassault Rafale in AirForce

There was a competition known as Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) Competition also known as the MRCA tender in which 126 multi-role combat aircrafts are supplied to the Indian Air force (IAF). The Defence Ministry has allocated ₹55000 crore (US$8.2 billion) for the purchase of these aircraft.

In this contest there are six competitors : : Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, Mikoyan MiG-35, and Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

On 27 April 2011, after an intensive and detailed technical evaluation by the IAF, it reduced the bidders to two fighters — Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale. On 31 January 2012 it was announced that Dassault Rafale won the competition due to its lower life-cycle cost.

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 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.

Then in March 2014,the two sides were agree 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.

On 10 April 2015, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to Paris, it was announced that India would buy 36 Dassault Rafales in fly-away condition.The deal was finalised in November 2015, and will be signed in January 2016; the first aircraft will be delivered to the IAF by early 2019, with the full complement of aircraft to be delivered by 2023.

Dassault Rafale will replace the Mirage 2000 in the Indian Airforce.


The aircraft has a length of 15.27 m wingspan of 10.80 m and height of 5.2 m.The aircraft has crew capacity of 2 Pilots.The fuel capacity of aircraft is 4700 kg (internal). The Rafale was developed as a modern jet fighter with a very high level of agility.It has delta wing with active close-coupled canard combine t maximize manoeuvrability.

For stability,the aircrafts uses digital fly-by-wire flight controls to artificially enforce and make aircraft more aerodynamically more stable.


The minimal RCS of Rafale, according to Dassault engineer (1/10~1/20 of Mirage-2000’s frontal RCS), should be 0.05 to 0.1 m2 class.

Rafale makes extensive use of radar-absorbent material (RAM) in the form of paints and other materials. RAM forms a saw-toothed pattern on the wing and canard trailing edges, for instance. The aircraft is designed to, so that its untreated radar signature is concentrated in a few strong “spikes,” which are then suppressed by the selective use of RAM.

75% of Rafale surface structure and 30% of its mass are made of composites. Besides, the high amount of composites and RAM materials, ducted air intakes, Rafale also has a sawtooth design feature all over the airframe and even in the air intakes. These sawtooth are made of RAM materials and meant to scatter and absorb radar waves. IRST surface of rafale is covered in gold shield which reflects very less radar energy and thus has stealth. The internals of the cockpit are RCS shaped as well as the canopy containing gold and RAM coat on the mounts which reflects very less radar reflection.


The cockpit of Rafale is equipped with a heads-up, wide-angle holographic display from Thales Avionique, which provides aircraft control data, mission data and firing cues.it has hands-on throttle and stick control (HOTAS).A Multi-image head level highly collimated display is integrated in the cockpit that presents tactical situation and sensor data,while two touch-screen lateral displays are also there to show the aircraft system parameters and mission data.

A collimated, multi-image head-level display presents tactical situation and sensor data, while two touch-screen lateral displays show the aircraft system parameters and mission data.

The pilot also has a helmet-mounted sight and display. A CCD camera and on-board recorder records the image of the head-up display throughout the mission.

 Avionics and Sensors Technology

The Rafale is equipped with an RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar developed by Thales, which has look-down and shoot-down capabilities and it can track up to eight targets simultaneously and provides threat identfications and prioritisation.

Active electronic scanning makes it possible to switch radar modes quickly, thereby enabling operational functions to run simultaneously.

AESA has incorporated expertise coming from the current RBE2 Rafale radar, in the tradition of electronic scanning array radar.The RBE2 has been in production since 1997 and was combat proven in multinational operations in 2001.It can be fitted on large or medium fighter aircraft.

The RBE2 will give the Rafale the capability to track all targets in the radar field of view,irrespective of the relative location between targets and host aircraft. Other operational benefits include the detection of targets with low radar reflectivity and improved high quality ground imaging. The RBE2’s high performance air-to-air detection will make it possible to detect smaller targets and to detect them earlier.

Navigation and  Communication

The Rafale is equipped with advanced communication suite which includes second-generation Saturn on-board V/UHF radio and anti-jam tactical UHF radio for Nato. Saturn provides voice encryption in fast-frequency hopping mode.

It is also equipped with fixed-frequency VHF / UHF radio for communications with civil air traffic control. A multifunction information distribution system (MIDS) terminal provides secure, high-data-rate tactical data exchange with Nato C2 stations, AWACS aircraft or naval ships.

The navigation system includes Thales TLS 2000 navigation receiver that integrates the instrument landing system (ILS), microwave landing system (MLS) and VHF omni-directional radio-ranger (VOR) and marker functions. The Rafale has a TACAN tactical air navigation receiver for en-route navigation and as a landing aid.

The Rafale has requipped with  AHV 17 radar altimeter and SB25A Combined interrogator-transporder developed by Thales.

Rafale engines

The Rafale is powered by two M88-2 engines from SNECMA, each providing a thrust of 75kN. The aircraft is equipped for buddy-buddy refuelling with a flight refuelling hose reel and drogue pack. The first M88 engine was delivered in 1996. It is a twin-shaft bypass turbofan engine principally suitable for low-altitude penetration and high-altitude interception missions.

The M88 incorporates the latest technologies such as single-piece bladed compressor disks (blisks), an on-polluting combustion chamber, single-crystal high-pressure turbine blades, powder metallurgy disks, ceramic coatings and composite materials.

The aircraft can fly with maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 kg .It has maximum speed of Mach 1.8 (1912 km/h)at high altitude and Mach 1.1(1390 km/h) at low altitude.The operational range of Rafale is 3700+ km with 3 drop tanks.The service ceiling and rate of climb is 15,235 m and 304.8 m/s respectively.


The Rafale has a twin gun pod and a Nexter (formerly Giat) 30mm DEFA 791B cannon, which can fire 2,500 rounds a minute. The Rafale is equipped with laser designation pods for laser guidance of air-to-ground missiles.

Rafale can carry payloads of more than 9t on 14 hardpoints for the air force version, with 13 for the naval version. The range of weapons includes: Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles and Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

For a strategic mission the Rafale can deliver the MBDA (formerly Aerospatiale) ASMP stand-off nuclear missile.



India’s decision to buy only 36 planes, barely two squadrons, seems puzzling at first. They will not fill the gap in the IAF’s numbers and nor will the Rafale’s nuclear capability add much to the Indian offensive toolkit. One can only assume that once the first set of jets are delivered, a further order will be placed to augment the existing numbers, including naval variants. This is even more likely if Dassault begins to manufacture in India – with the transfer of technology, it would be easy to domestically ramp up numbers as India has done with the Sukhoi. The Rafale’s primary role is to replace the IAF’s retiring fleet: while the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft is expected to step in at the low end, the Rafale will occupy the mid-level force structure with the expectation that an advanced indigenous descendant of the Tejas or the fifth generation fighter that India is jointly developing with Russia will form the top of the line component.

Immediately, the Rafale is expected to give India the dominant status in the air. Wedded to airborne control systems, the Rafale and its armaments can essentially hit enemy targets while staying out of range of their fighter jets. Though not the essential component of a future cross-border strike, the Rafale can provide the additional firepower if needed. As the IAF’s description of the tender suggests, the Rafale is a multi-role platform that can be deployed for air dominance, ground support, aerial reconnaissance, and nuclear delivery. The Rafale has already been used in all these capacities – except the last, of course – in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, and Iraq and maintained a high operational rate throughout.

Neither the Rafale nor any other weapons system will give the side possessing it the ultimate advantage in battle and such expectations are foolish. Nonetheless, the Rafale, when it arrives, will substantially augment the Indian Air Force’s capabilities in several mission profiles and put India’s hostile neighbours on notice. An additional acquisition of domestically manufactured Rafales post-2021 would buy the Indian defence establishment time to complete its advanced fighter aircraft for the IAF. For an enervated service, the arrival of the Rafales will be a breath of fresh air.

MBDA Meteor 

Meteor is the next generation of Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) system designed to revolutionize air-to-air combat in the 21st Century. The weapon brings together six nations with a common need to defeat the threats of today as well as the future emerging ones developed by MBDA. Guided by an advanced active radar seeker, Meteor provides all weather capability to engage a wide variety of targets from agile fast jets to small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and cruise missiles.


SCALP Missile

Scalp, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km, also gives the IAF an edge over its adversaries.SCALP is the air-launched low-observable long-range, conventionally armed, deep strike weapon, designed to meet the demanding requirements of pre-planned attacks against high value fixed or stationary targets.

SCALP is able to be operated in extreme conditions, the weapon offers operators a highly flexible, deep-strike capability based around a sophisticated mission planning system. According to MBDA officials, SCALP can be integrated into both upgraded Mirage-2000 and Rafale fighter jets.


Top 10 Reasons why India Choose Dassault Rafale Over Eurofighter Typoon and Other fighters

  • Rafale has a better availability rate when compared to the Typhoon , and this makes a huge difference in a war.
  • Rafale has a better integrated electronic warfare and countermeasures suite which can jam most existing air defence systems.
  • Rafale has 5 hardpoints which can each carry loads greater than 1200 kg Total 15 hardpoints for 9000 kg of external stores.
  • Total 6 AAMs, 6 Bombs and 3×2000 litre external fuel tanks in max configuration mode. Better than typhoon.
  • Single country makes it which makes ToT easier. Unlike Typhoon which is made by a consortium of 4 nations.
  • Rafale has an AESA radar which is operational.
  • IAF has good opinion about Dassault and they are comfortable with their products.
  • Many weapons of Rafale and Mirage 2000 can be used interchangeably.
  • Rafale has existing carrier variants
  • Russia has agreed to sync their Anti-Radiation missile Kh-31PD with the Rafale which will make it more potent.)


You may also like...