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Did France and India sign a deal to purchase Rafale-M fighters during Macron's visit to New Delhi?


After months of thorough evaluations, the Indian Navy's search for a carrier-based fighter jet for its homegrown aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is almost over. According to rumours, the Dassault Rafale is predicted to prevail in this closely contested matchup against Boeing Super Hornets.


Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, may visit New Delhi in March 2023 and sign a deal for more than 26 Rafale Marine fighters, according to a report that appeared in the French magazine La Tribune on January 4. The precise dates of the President's visit have not yet been made public.


The article made the assumption that since March 2023 will mark the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership between the two countries, the Indian side was probably working on the formalities for signing an agreement at that time.


However, neither the Indian government nor the Indian Navy have made any such communication public.


Former French Defense Minister Florence Parly told the media in December 2021 that Dassault Aviation might receive a contract for "26 to 57 Rafale in Navy version." Instead of 57 Rafale Marine fighter jets, a deal may now be reached for 26 of them.


The Indian Navy evaluated both the US-based Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the French Dassault Aviation Rafale-M earlier this year as a possible replacement for its ageing and diminishing fleet of carrier-based MiG-29K fighters. A shore-based testing facility in Goa, India, hosted the tests involving both aircraft a few months apart.



Rafale-M Fighters


According to reports in The Times of India, the Indian Navy provided a thorough report on Rafale and Super Hornets after the trials in order for the Defense Ministry to make a final choice regarding the purchase. The report claims that the French Rafale-M is "more suitable in meeting the operational requirements and criteria compared to Super Hornets."


Military experts previously claimed that the Rafale-wings M's could not be folded, causing it to occupy more space on the aircraft carrier's deck. The folding wing mechanism of the F/18 Super Hornet, on the other hand, gave it a slight advantage.



The report, however, took into account a number of other aspects of the Rafale Marine, favoring the Dassault aircraft. In the interim, until the country develops and produces its twin-engine deck-based fighter (TEDBF), the Navy intends to buy 26 jets .



F-18 Super Hornet


The MiG-29K aircraft have encountered numerous technical issues, necessitating replacement, and TEDBF won't be ready for another ten years, so the Navy is considering importing deck-based fighters as a temporary fix.


The remaining aircraft would not be supplied by the United States, but rather by the Indian manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, according to a report in another local French publication.


The HAL Tejas Mark-2 multi-mission aircraft, which is anticipated to be operational between 2024 and 2026, will reportedly be purchased by the Indian Navy. Eurasian Times was unable to independently confirm these assertions.


Tejas Mark-2 For Indian Navy?

The indigenous LCA Tejas fighter aircraft has been upgraded into the LCA Mark 2 multirole fighter jet. The Tejas Mk-2, a 4.5th generation fighter under development by the Aeronautical Development Agency, is anticipated to be the most sophisticated Tejas derivative developed and manufactured domestically.


The aircraft will have a more potent American GE-414 engine, better avionics and electronics, a stronger radar, and the capacity to carry more weapons.


Scalp, Crystal Maze, and Spice-2000 weapons will be available for the Tejas Mk2 model. Additionally, it will have locally made Astra Mark 1 and Mark 2 missiles for air-to-air combat. The Tejas Mk-2 will be guided by the "Made in India" Uttam AESA radar.



HAL Tejas Mk2


However, the Tejas Mk-2 is not a fighter jet that can be used on a carrier, despite its excellent and promising performance. It will be incorporated into the Indian Air Force to replace the deteriorating Jaguars and Mirage-2000s. It will be used as an air-to-ground attack aircraft, to put it briefly.


The HAL Twin Engine Deck-Based Fighter is the carrier-based aircraft that the nation yearns for (TEDBF). The Indian Navy is putting together a draught cabinet note for the design and development of the TEDBF, which India intends to operate from its aircraft carriers, according to Chief Admiral R. Hari Kumar of the Indian Navy.


The first TEDBF prototype should be finished by 2026, and production could begin as early as 2032. For the TEDBF Project, the Navy works in conjunction with the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) and Aeronautical Development Agency.


Girish Linganna, an aerospace analyst, previously told EurAsian Times that the TEDBF could be seen as the replacement for the naval version of the domestic Tejas jet. Tejas is a single-engined light combat aircraft. However, the Indian Navy has decided that a twin-engine aircraft is required to replace the MiG-29K in this capacity.



Aero India 2021: Indian TEDBF naval fighter showcased by HAL


The expert went on to say that the TEDBF fighter, which is carrier-based and multirole, is a twin-engine canard derivative of the Tejas fighter jet. On it, HAL and the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), an independent organization under the Ministry of Defense of India, are cooperating.


The Tejas Mk-2, which does not meet the definition of a carrier-based aircraft, is unlikely to be of interest to the Indian Navy, according to the preliminary conclusion drawn from the aforementioned arguments. The TEDBF, however, appears to be on track and could be incorporated into the Indian Navy for use in carrier operations in the following ten years.


SOURCE: EurAsian Times

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