It is now official – the much awaited deal with France to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets has been finalised and India will sign the deal by the endÂ of this month. With the fleet of IAF fighter jets getting older and scheduledÂ to be decommissioned in the next few years, Indian Air Force was in need of state-of-the-art fighterÂ jets. Though the Rafale deal was initiated close to a decade ago, but ineffective leadership, rampant corruption & red-tapism in the defence procurements and sheer insensitivity, the deal could not be finalised. Only after Shri Narendra Modi visited France last year, followed by the visit of French President Hollande to New Delhi as the chief guest on Republic Day, the deal moved forward and came close to being formalised. After many rounds of negotiations, Modi government has saved 600 Million Euros (Rs. 4500 Crore) of tax-payers’ money.
The deal for 36 Rafale jets will cost 7.87 billion euros (Rs. 59,000 Crore), with 50% of the cost being covered underÂ offset, which means that France will either source spare equipmentsÂ costing about 3.95 billion euros, or will directly invest the amount in India creating lakhs of jobs in India. Along with Rafale jets, India will also get spare-parts, accessories and the Meteor missile, considered among one of the most advanced Air-to-air missiles in the world, from France. Rafale jets are among the most advanced fighter jets in the world, with a maximum speed of about 2 Machs (2 times faster than the speed of sound, approximately 2200 km/hr) and capable of flying a distance of about 4000 kilometre. The Rafale jets are equipped with state-of-the art radars and avionics technology, which make it one of the most advanced and lethal jets in the world. The first jet will be delivered to IAF by Rafale in 2019.
Along with various equipments that France will supply with the Rafale jets, the most special one is the Meteor Missile, which is considered as the most advanced air-to-air missile in the world. The missile is a new age beyond visual-range supersonic missile which can destroy its targets located more than 100 kilometre away. The missile can chase targets more than 100 km away at a speed of Mach 4 (4400 km/hr). As per a report in a leading defence website ‘War is Boring’, an international website on latest weapon technologies, the working principle of Meteor missile is : “A conventional solid-fuel booster accelerates the Meteor after launch, like most air-to-air missiles. But while roaring through the air, the missile opens up a chute, allowing air to rush into the engine, which heats up the oxygen and propels the supersonic missile to Mach 4.Â Not only that, the missile can adjust how much oxygen it breathes, conserving energy during the coast phase, only to take a deep breath in the final moments before hitting a target.Â The result is that if a targeted plane tries to dodge out of the way, Meteor can overcome it by summoning more thrust, and thus more maneuverability, during those precious few seconds.“
As per most of the international defence experts, Pakistan as well as China have no answer to the Meteor missile and are helpless to counter it. Along with Meteor, the Brahmos missiles have already proved their worth in various tests. Last month, when India deployed Brahmos in Arunachal Pradesh, China was disturbed and became restless which is an indication of the might of the Brahmos. Now, acquisition of 36 Rafale jets armed with Meteor air-to-air missiles, Pakistan is sure to have sleepless nights, given the fact that itsÂ F-16 deal with the USA didnt materialise under mounting international pressure on Pakistan.