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Indian Navy to get Rafale-M fighters for its INS Vikrant aircraft carrier.

| 2023

According to Sakshi Tiwari in Eurasian Times, the Indian Navy’s quest to acquire a carrier-based fighter jet for its indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is nearing conclusion after months of rigorous evaluations. The French-made Dassault Rafale-M is expected to win the competition against Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

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Indian Navy to get 26 Rafale M fighters for its INS Vikrant aicraft carrier Dassault Rafale M  (Picture source: French Navy)

According to a report published on January 4 in the French publication La Tribune, a contract for over 26 Rafale Marine fighters could be signed during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to New Delhi in March 2023. The exact dates of the Presidential visit have not been announced yet, Sakshi Tiwari writes. The report speculated that the Indian side was likely working on the formalities for signing an agreement in March 2023, as the year marks the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership between the two countries. However, no such communication has been released by the Indian government or the Indian Navy, Sakshi Tiwari comments.

In December 2021, the former French Defense Minister Florence Parly (a position now taken over by Sébastien Lecornu) told the media that Dassault Aviation could bag an order for “26 to 57 Rafale in Navy version.” However, a deal may now be signed for 26 Rafale Marine fighter jets instead of 57, Sakshi Tiwari reports.

The Rafale Marine (Rafale M) is the same as the Rafale C F3-R but a carrier-borne version for the French Naval Aviation, which entered service in 2001. For carrier operations, the M model has a strengthened airframe, a longer nose gear leg to provide a more nose-up attitude, a larger tailhook between the engines, and a built-in boarding ladder. Consequently, the Rafale M weighs about 500 kg (1,100 lb) more than the Rafale C. It is the only non-US fighter type cleared to operate from the decks of US carriers, using catapults and their arresting gear, as demonstrated in 2008 when six Rafales from Flottille 12F integrated into the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Air Wing interoperability exercise.

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