The Indian Navy is in need of an upgrade after the Indian Air Force acquired cutting-edge fighter jets like the Tejas and Rafale and placed another sizable order for more than 100 fighter jets to replace the fleet’s ageing stock. To operate from its aircraft carriers, the Navy needs a fresh batch of contemporary fighter aircrafts.
Around four years ago, the Indian Navy started the process of acquiring 57 multi-role combat aircraft for its aircraft carrier. However, they will replace the outdated Mig-29k, the jet’s naval variant, with roughly 30 modern fighter jets.
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Recently, the navy conducted tests with the American-made Boeing F-18 Hornet and the French-made Dassault Rafale, both of which are 4.5-generation fighter jets already in use by the IAF, to assess how well these aircraft perform aboard aircraft carriers. Both jets are available in versions for the Air Force and the Navy.
The Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) programme, which the Indian Navy is also working on, is for fighter jets produced in India. The Navy needs some contemporary equipment to take the place of the Russian MIGs in the interim as these aircraft will need time to develop and will eventually replace foreign fighter planes in the fleet.
Here, we contrast the French Rafale with the American F-18 to see how they compare for the Indian troops.
Marine Dassault Rafale
The name Rafale, which is French for “gust of wind,” refers to the twin-engine, multirole 4.5 generation fighter aircraft that Dassault Aviation produces and designs. In order to construct two squadrons, one in North India and one in South India, the Indian Air Force has placed a sizable order for the induction of 36 Rafale aircraft. The Rafale Marine is the fighter jet’s naval counterpart, and it has a comparable design.
The Dassault Rafale has a delta wing design, can withstand higher G-forces of up to 11G, and is offered with single or dual cabin seating arrangements. The Rafale had a wingspan of 10.80 metres and a length of 15.27 metres.
The Rafale is equipped with a GIAT 30M/719B gun that can fire regulated bursts of 0.5 or 1 seconds at 2,500 RPM. The primary missile of the Rafale is an air-to-air, multi-target, fire-and-forget MBDA MICA missile. Rafale possesses an MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile for BVR (beyond visual range).
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Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet
The Boeing Company-designed F/A-18E Super Hornet for the Navy has a 20% larger airframe, 41% longer range, and upgraded General Electric F414 engines (an upgrade over the Hornet’s F404 engines), which provide 35% more thrust. For your information, Boeing has also been promoting the F-18 to the Indian Air Force. The F-18 for the Navy is the Navy-specific model.
The M61A1 Vulcan revolving gun of the F-18 Super Hornet can fire 6,000 rounds per minute. The Super Hornet possesses an AIM-7 Sparrow missile with semi-active radar homing. The Super Hornet possesses an AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile for BVR (beyond visual range).