India Picks Rafale-M over MiG-29K

(c) K.B. Sherman, 2003

The Indian Navy recently stated its preference for the French Rafale-M fighter over the MiG-29K for its new aircraft carrier, the ex-Admiral Gorshkov. Seven Rafales currently operate from the French carrier Charles de Gaulle. Originally, India had agreed to buy some of the Gorshkov’s existing complement of MiG-29K aircraft to equip the ship’s air wing. However, this deal has been bogged-down for over four years in bargaining over price and options.

The Indian Navy says it prefers the Rafale (Dassault Aviation of France) because it requires less reconfiguration than would be the case for the MiG-29K. India is likely to buy a first batch of eight Rafales.

The Rafale-M is a single-seat, twin-engine sea attack, air defense and air superiority aircraft. The Rafale-M entered service in 2001 and ten have been delivered. It is equipped with laser designation pods for laser guidance of air-to-ground missiles. It carries the Thales Spectra electronic warfare suite, incorporating a radar warner, DAL laser warning receiver, missile warning system, and jammers. The aircraft is also equipped with a Thales RBE-2 look- down, shoot-up radar and a Thales SAGEM OSF infrared search and track system. The Admiral Gorshkov is the last of four ships in its class, commissioned by the Russian Navy in 1987 and retired in 1994 after the USSR collapsed. India signed an agreement to acquire the carrier in 1998 and haggling over the price and features has been ongoing since. Defense News reports that India’s acquisition of the Gorshkov is scheduled to occur later this year.