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Mega deal in mind, Rafale M takes off from Navy’s Goa test range, Boeing F/A 18 next

The marine version of the French fighter jet performed a ski-jump —a crucial take-off capability — to demonstrate its ability to operate from Indian aircraft carriers.

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New Delhi: Rafale M, the marine version of the French fighter jet Monday successfully carried out a demonstration ski-jump from the shore-based test facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa, in Goa, to project its capabilities to operate from Indian aircraft carriers.

Ski-jump is a crucial take-off capability needed to operate from Indian aircraft carriers and Rafale’s manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, has brought the marine version here to showcase its features to the Indian Navy.

Similarly, American Aviation giant Boeing will also be bringing its F/A 18 Super Hornet to the same facility in Goa to showcase its ski-jump capability in March.

Navy sources told ThePrint that this is not a trial and the companies are bringing in the aircraft to showcase their capabilities, as the force works on issuing a tender for an unspecified number of new fighters to replace the in-service MiG 29K.
ThePrint had in October last year reported that Dassault Aviation was going to showcase its aircraft in India.

Also read: Chinese navy is planning ahead. India’s approach doesn’t match up, above sea or below

3 types of carrier-based take off

Carrier-based fighters primarily come in three categories — STOVL (short take-off and vertical landing), STOBAR (Short Take-off but Arrested Recovery) and CATOBAR (catapult take-off but arrested recovery).

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and American carriers use CATOBAR while Indian carriers — INS Vikramaditya and an indigenous one that is under trial — employ STOBAR. Hence foreign fighters have to demonstrate the capability as a basic requirement.

Both Dassault and Boeing are eyeing a mega deal from the Navy, which is seeking to buy at least two squadrons of new fighters that will operate from its aircraft carriers.

In 2017, the Navy had issued a Request for Information (RFI) to foreign players for 57 new fighters.

But with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) now working on a Twin-Engine Carrier-Based Deck Fighter (TEBDF), the Navy is understood to have cut down its requirement for foreign fighters.

In 2020, the then Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh had also said that the force may pursue joint acquisition of fighters with the IAF.

“We have the MiG-29K operating from the Vikramaditya and will operate from the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC)-I. To replace them, we have taken up a case for the Multi-Role Carrier-Borne Fighters (MRCBF) which we are trying to do along with the IAF,” he had said. 

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi) 

Also read: India bumbled along while China grew its navy. Now, embracing the West is the only option


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