Another 36 Rafales on the way?

French defence minister to attend Rafale induction ceremony in Ambala -  India News
[Defmin Rajnath Singh with his French counterpart, Florence Parly in Ambala]

Earlier this month, the Indian Air Force formally inducted five Rafale combat aircraft — two 2-seat trainers, and three combat-ready single seater aircraft, into the 17th ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron in Ambala. Another five Rafales with IAF roundels are at the Dassault base in Merignac in southern France, being used for conversion of MiG-21bis pilots, ground handling and maintenance crews. The retraining stints are for six months for each lot of Indian pilots and technicians, with the pilots allotted the contracted number of training sorties alongside a French instructor.

Making allowance for the occasion, there was the expected hyperbole. The defence minister Rajnath Singh called the aircraft a “game changer” and, with less the Chinese adversary in Ladakh in mind than the domestic audience, added that it sent a “big and stern message to the entire world, especially those eyeing our sovereignty.” The French defence minister Florence Parly not to be outshone in exaggeration said that “India has world class capability and incredible sovereign tool. India has an edge over the entire region.” She was merely embroidering what her Indian counterpart had stated in Merignac on 8 October 2019 when formally accepting the first lot of Rafales. After a joy ride in the plane, the Indian leader had declared “the new Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA)” as making “India stronger” and giving the IAF an “exponential boost” to “its air dominance” capability.

Why Rajnathji was briefed to say this is not important. But how the IAF means to actually obtain air dominance with just 36 of these aircraft is a mystery. Sure, Rafales working in tandem with Su-30MKIs can plausibly achieve this objective as former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa stated, but by themselves even twice this number of Rafales in Indian colours cannot. But, as the late defence minister Manohar Parrikar was convinced, larger numbers of Su-30s would alone have sufficed for the purpose. Moreover, the additional Su-30s could have been secured at a fraction of the Rs 59,000 crore upfront cost of the Rafales or, to repeat myself, for just a “truckload” of the exorbitantly-priced Meteor, Scalp and Hammer missiles that these aircraft will be armed with, and which have been tested and proven by the French Air Force against such military heavyweights as Libya and Syria!

This begs the question I long ago asked — where was the need for the Rafale in the first place?

But whether India dominates the skies is not Parly’s interest; that the IAF procures an additional 36 Rafales is. In a meeting with the French press at the embassy that evening, Parly was reportedly confident that Paris will be able to ring up such a sale on the same terms, but without the ‘sunk costs’ of attending infrastructure — airconditioned hangars, special diagnostic and testing machines, etc.

When reminded by a pesky French journo that such a follow-up deal clashes head-on with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘atm nirbharta’ policy and the thrust of Rajnath Singh’s ‘negative list’ thinking, Madame Parly dissembled but did not budge from her stand, indirectly hinting that such a deal would be signed for the same reason the original was approved in April 2015: Modi will agree to buy ’em. End of argument! Irrelevant considerations like, where’s the money? are obviously not expected to intrude into the Indian government’s calculations, or at least Paris does not expect them to.

Both France and the IAF had gamed this out right, and their plan is working. IAF was the decisive actor here. It had sought the 36 Rafales it was partial to from the beginning as a wedge purchase easing the buy, as I had predicted, of more such aircraft to fill the Service’s entire 126 MMRCA requirement without having to go through the transfer-of- technology and licensed manufacture cycle.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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48 Responses to Another 36 Rafales on the way?

  1. Edelbert Kmenlang Badwar says:

    Exorbitant or not we surely need more Rafales and maybe even F 35s ,if it is available to us.Some niche, high end technologies can be acquired through atmanirbharta overnight.

  2. andy says:

    Its not surprising that IAF wants 36 more Rafale, they wanted a French bird right from the turn of the century, being enamored by the Mirage 2000 performance during the Kargil war and the overall availability percentages. They ultimately culminated this quest by procuring the Rafale. IAF managed to do this by loading the whole MMRCA saga in favour of the French offering and all the time raising the canard of depleting squadron strength,to badger the govt into buying an exorbitantly priced jet.

    The order for another 36 may be placed in the next few years, which would place the slated purchase of 114 fighters to be manufactured in India in limbo. In February this year we had CDS Rawat talking about a staggered purchase to meet the IAF requirements ,which favours the Rafale since its already inducted into the IAF.

    By some estimates the cost of another 2 squadrons would be lower by 30 to 40 percent,or around euro 5.5 billion,given that the India specific enhancement and basing infrastructure cost is already sunk,which still makes it an excessively costly capital purchase. This also doesn’t fully address the falling squadron strength problem, with about 7 squadrons of the MIG 21BIS and Jaguars set to retire in the next few years.

    The best option to overcome this is to enhance the production capacity of HALs Tejas line and to upgrade the Su 30 fleet to Super Sukhoi standard.

    If a low cost option is sought ,then one exists in the Mirage 2000 fleet of the Taiwanese airforce, who are asking for $1.5 to 2 billions for their 60 jets,along with about 500 missiles These jets were manufactured in the 1990s, so are newer than the Indian M2Ks by 10 to 15 yrs, meaning there’s a lot of life still left in the airframes. The condition of these jets might have suffered due to lack of funds, as the Taiwanese concentration on the F16 fleet was more and spares were not forthcoming from France in deference to Chinese pressure. These jets can be easily upgraded by HAl,where the Indian Mirage fleet is being given the same treatment. There’s a lot of expertise in India for handling the M2K,not only in flying but also MRO,these 3 squadrons are an immediate solution to a festering problem that has no easy solutions.

    This option if exercised would cost India about $3.5 billion, given that 48 Indian M2Ks are being upgraded for $2.3 billion,of which about half a billion is for tools, workshops etc development. This also more than doubles the IAFs M2K fleet ,a fighter jet they wanted all along.

  3. Tony says:

    Sukhois and everything Russian is already in the hands of the Han who have probably reversed engineered all the Russian tech it can lay hands on. If I remember right, some Russian high ranking scientist was caught selling secret navy tech to the Han. It’d be best to invest in talent at IITs give them large salaries and use them to research innovate and produce locally. But even after all that Indian politicans are not expected to show steely will to use them.

  4. Sairaj Umapathy says:

    Sir, with due respect to the mighty Su 30 MKIs…. Those were left wanting when Pakis gave us a bloody nose…. Only to be saved by daring Abhi and his venerable mig21 bis….

    • Sairaj@ — Oh, please!

      • Sairaj Umapathy says:

        Understand your point about Su 30MKIs but if our country would have to go through another decade of selection process to get another aircraft…. isn’t it better to get 36 additional Rafales and remaining mirage 2000s from Taiwan. Also think Su 30s will be the last russian planes we will ever buy….IAF has shown it’s preference for European jets….even our own Tejas is designed based on Mirages rather than any russian influences…

  5. PRAN says:

    We need 200 Rafales 10 squads, 20 per squadran, its a very modern fighter on par with f22 f35. It can beat the shit out off eurofighter, super cruise mach 1.5, what else we want. Super electronics and intelligence warfare, 90 percent availability in war and peace time lowest maintenance

  6. An admirer says:

    No there is huge problem with the Indian Sukhoi fleet as the radar is Israeli, avionics are French and the weapons are Russian and it keeps jamming its own radar. Rafale, on the other hand, is way superior as it comes with meteor missile , great avionics and radar and if there are 6 missiles all of them being air to air then it is definitely 6 kills. And as tech is getting more advance we have to decide we want quality like the west or quantity like the Chinese. The French, for example, have only about 120 aircraft mostly Rafale because these are great aircraft. So definitely 72 would be great for India as these 36 are only for the nuclear role so they can hit Beijing (in the contingency that our missiles fail).Tejas which you have said is great sir in my humble opinion is not because it lacks adequate electronics for EW and the smallest aircraft the west could produce with great EW capabilities is Gripen which is bigger in dimensions and electronics than Tejas. So what in my opinion we should do is induct more Rafales and get a western platform e.g F-21 or Gripen etc. As these have great avionics and Mig 29 UPG as it is also great and last at max fighter aircraft inventory should have no more than 3 different types like all successful airforces for reasons of logistics. And instead we should focus on datalinked airforce like Pakistan (let me clear this for the kind of budget they have they a great airforce and they understand economics unlike our beareaucrats who don’t understand economies of scale). In the end indigenisation should happen in parts — IR weapon systems e.g. the Astraa BVR missile. And again look at these Rafales cost over a perind of 10 yrs instead of 1 or 2 . I think our budget of 77 billion per anum can afford it but then airforce should drip the bogey of 45 squadrons, all western airforces have downsized to give way to much greater quality and we must do the same.

    • Bhishma says:

      @An admirer

      F21s are basically F16s. A tarted up design which is 50 years old. It’s total obsolete garbage.

      You say that 36 Rafales will be used in the nuclear strike role to hit Beijing in case our missiles fail!

      Errrrr…. No. Impossible at present.

      The distance from Guwahati to Beijing is 2750 kms.

      Rafale has the capability to fly 2x SCALP ALCM’s (weighing 1300kgs each) to a combat range to a maximum of 1850 kms (with three drop tanks and assuming a clean ideal non-manoevering flight path)…

      So we are short by 900kms. SCALP ALCMs have a range of 300kms. So we are still short by 600kms to reach Beijing.

      A Rafale taking off an airfield based in the northeast can certainly deliver 2x SCALP ALCM’S to Kunming (1100kms), Chengdu (1300kms), Chongqing (1550kms), Nanning (1700kms) or at an absolute stretch to Changsha the capital of Hunan province which is 2100kms away. (combined range of Rafale + SCALP ALCM is 2150kms)

      So let’s target Changsha then.

      The two SCALP’s per Rafale have a conventional warhead weighing 450kgs each. The longest-range ‘strategic’ damage we can hope to cause China is cultural damage really. Use one SCALP to blow up a Western Han dynasty tomb in Changsha and use the other SCALP to blow up Mao Zedong’s former residence which is also conveniently located in Changsha. Lol.

      Seriously… To make a credible nuclear strike on Beijing using a Rafale… The Rafale would need a minimum 1mt thermonuclear warhead tipped ALCM which has a range of 1000kms AND weighs 2500kgs or less. The subsonic Nirbhay missile under development may be ideal for such a role in future. But… we DON’T have a proven thermonuclear megaton range device. Our biggest yield proven weapon is a paltry 45kt device.

      To hit Beijing with nukes from India by aircraft we need bomber aircraft. Proper strategic bombers. Like the US B-1, B-2 and B52 (which the US will never sell to its closest allies let alone India) or the Russian Tu22 and Tu160 (which the Russians can sell us and even co-develop) or something similar developed in India. Which we don’t have. Neither do we have any plans to acquire or develop any bombers.

      And also… Don’t forget that we need proper strategic city killer nukes as well. Which we don’t have again. We have at best a suburb tickler 45kt device of doubtful reliability.

      And our cowardly government’s won’t do proper nuclear tests either. We just have a maximum 45kt capability. How much that device weighs is anybody’s guess too. It was just a single thermonuclear test. So who knows if the design is actually deployable reliably. China won’t shake in its boots at that. They sneeze slightly into their Covid masks maybe.

      They have 10 megaton proven nukes. With the ability to lob them 20,000kms away.

      We need to lift our game. And not get all excited about 36 inconsequential aircraft.

  7. V.Ganesh says:

    Mr. Karnad: Syria and Libya are no military heavyweights. If it weren’t for the Russian intervention, the Syrian military would have been routed. As for Libya, it was no military heavyweight when Gadaffi was in power and after his ouster, it has descended into chaos with Islamic terrorists infesting it and other nations fighting with each other there.

    • V Ganesh@ — I was being sarcastic (about Syria and Libya, for God’s sake)!

    • K.Rajendran nair says:

      Going for more 36 Rafale aircraft will be a Himalayan blunder. Why again should we spend 59000 more rupee? Why don’t we manufacture our own aircraft and give jobs to our educated youth? Our aircraft will not be as superior as Rafale or other aircraft, but definitely we Indians can be prouder of our equipments and in the long run we will be able to make the best aircraft in future.

      I’d like to remind that it is not the aircraft that wins wars or battles. It is the motivated and well trained and brave pilots, who can change the game. Take the case of 1971 war hero Flying Officer K.P. Muralidharan MIA who was belatedly and repeatedly was recommended for the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously by the IAF in the year 2010-2014 but the award was denied by higher authorities using the TIME BAR FOR BRAVERY excuse. What a shame and absurd reply to the kin of this brave and courageous pilot. No other country is as ungrateful to its brave militarymen, this despite the IAF being convinced of this officer’s exceptional courage exhibited over the Peshawar Skies. He not only had three runs over the air base but also destroyed many enemy vital installations, and also saved his Commander Sqn.Ldr. K.N.Bajpayee’s life during the dog fight with the PAF. Finally he went down to enemy fire because his plane ran out of fuel. He was eloquently praised by the enemy pilot Wing Cmdr Salim Mirza Beig and the Pakistani press for his heroism. India has not recognised his feats and is yet to pay his pending dues. In Kargil war Pak Captain Karnal Sher Khan was given the highest gallantry award Nishan-e-Hyder posthumously on the basis of a report by a local Indian commander. In 1965 War, Pak Major Rana Sheriff was similarly awarded a gallantry medal because of a news report made by an Indian unit head during a battle in the Rajasthan desert.

      October 8 is IAF Day. We will wait and watch if the govt and IAF recognize Muralidharan. Other wise we are wasting our precious resources and money, celebrating the induction of Rafale jets at Ambala air base. Jai Hind!

  8. V.Ganesh says:

    Rafales are a waste of money. It’s combat experience is limited to action against terrorists. It hasn’t faced any air force yet. India would be better off buying the F-21 and then using the F-21 to buy the F-35 – the only fifth-generation fighter jet in production, use and having seen combat – ask the Israelis. India needs to junk its Soviet/Russian-origin military hardware which is less expensive compared to its US/American military hardware but has a short life and vice-versa. Same goes for the French military hardware – always overpriced. When the world is moving towards fifth-generation fighter jets, the French are talking about making a sixth-generation fighter jet and it’d be better if less is said about the Russian fifth-generation fighter jet which thankfully India didn’t buy because it’s yet to be accepted even by the Russians. Russia since the disintegration of the Soviet Union/USSR has been cash-strapped and is using India as a piggy bank to fund its military hardware projects. It’s time India buys only the military hardware from Russia that no one else will give to India like nuclear submarines and stop buying all other Russian military hardware.

  9. Sankar says:

    I thought the Rafales would be neutralized now that the Chinese are starting to integrate the Russian S-400 batteries in their air defence system in Tibet.

  10. Dr. Manoranjan Dutta says:

    Yet another attempt to raise the Rafale acquisition issue that was consigned to dustbin after the 2019 election verdict at a time we when we are facing enemies at two fronts. As usual the subtle way to put a wedge between the departed Defence Minister and the present leadership on Rafale issue and raising the price issue without mentioning the reasons for it. Familiar ploy from the stable of hoot and scoot game sowing doubts in the minds of people to keep it alive ignoring the dire requirements of our air force that could not acquire any modern aircraft for more than two decades.

    • Dr Manoranjan Dutta — There will always be enemies on however many fronts. This cannot perennially be used as an excuse to postpone hard decisions to strictly promote self-reliance. That’s how, incidentally, China propelled itself to the front rank and the reason why I have long hoped that India would be on some black list and cannot take the easy way out every time by simply buying obsolescing armaments from abroad and pay a king’s ransom for them, when the same monies can be invested in profit minded and accountable private sector-led national defence industry.

      • rama5678 says:

        Why only Private sector who are always looking for profit. why not defence establishment themselves start production of much need airplanes defence equipment etc. govt said price of Rafale cannot be divulged due to Security but they can trust private players what an irony!!!!

      • Bhishma says:

        @Bharat Karnad

        On that note… The ideal situation would be for a future Indian Government with some real balls (not the current dispensation)… To actually conduct full sets of thermonuclear testing. Full sets of testing to design and refine and deploy a full range of yields from 100kt up to 10megaton devices.

        Then we may actually have some actual deterrence value. Which we really don’t have now vis-a-vis China. Our tiny number of nuke tests were a joke really. We have capable missiles but totally suspect nukes. Sufficient to deter Pakistan but completely insufficient credibility against China. I don’t even believe we have a reliable design. One test does not a weapon make.

        Anyway… If we ever get a future government with some actual chutzpah… And they conduct proper nuclear testing. We will have a double bonus… We will get actual working thermonuclear weapons… And the ensuing blacklisting will force us into developing other weapons ourselves. I remember reading with great pride during my university days about how we developed the PARAM supercomputer after being denied some CRAY Supercomputers. And developing our cryo engines which were blacklisted after the nuke tests.

        Two birds with one nuke so to speak.

    • IPC says:

      Yes, Dr Manoranjan. The question is: Why India needed Rafale from a foreign country and could not produce them in India for the long 70 years? Why? Why a so pittiable condition of India? Because making India strong in defending itself was never a priority. Somebody here has commented: Why private sector – whose only aim is to earn profit – is being invited for defence industry in India and why not public sector? Please, be realistic and look to the world. HAL could not make Rafale; a French private industry made it. Why? Because the private industry has to compete in quality – of course for profit. And, we need quality – quality of tanks, airplanes, guns, missiles, robotic drones and fighters. Even China is not exception to this reality on the ground – it invites foreign capital with technology; steals that technology to make its J- (some number) fighters. It does so in every field. – this the secret of China; a third class thing. Let all of us give a landing hand to the presently rising India – instead of creating hinderence, even intellectual; India is our mother land – our only home.

      • Prem MK says:

        “this the secret of China; a third class thing.”

        I am no Chinese lover, in fact I despise their godless ideology, but such statements are quite puzzling, especially from Indians, who depend so much on Chinese tech. For example, Chinese phones are selling like hot cakes in India. Are there any equivalent “third class” products from India?

        With that in mind, Indians should consider, is there such a thing as “fourth class”? They may find themselves in that category.

  11. Kumar says:

    We live in strange times….a mere writer believes he is more informed than the Air Chief Marshal!! The IAF had asked for these aircraft much earlier.

    • Bhishma says:


      We live in truly strange times indeed. With anybody anywhere being able to comment on a globally accessible platform.

      Truly strange cacophonic times.

      A mere nobody who can string a sentence together believes his trolling will be taken seriously by an actual scholar. Ha!

      • Prem MK says:

        Yes, I agree that Mr.Karnad is an interesting read sometimes. He isn’t afraid to call a spade, a frickin’ spade. That said, I am not a fan.

        I see him as a centrist (ok, perhaps right-of-center), which is good enough, given the available options on the right and far-right. But, some of his ideas, like India arming Vietnam (or was that Taiwan?) with nukes seems over the top.

        I am not sure whether there are many silent army/pol/intel folks who follow him here, but going by the comment section, and the usual suspects who lurk around here, his reach seems limited. Even his twitter following is limited. I wonder why?

        With regards to the “trolling” label, you should take it easy, as you sound like a sycophant. I am sure, a scholar of Mr.Karnad’s stature does not need you to protect his honour. Basically, we should be allowed to say anything, within limits of decency, without worrying too much about crossing some boundary, and being labelled the dreaded, “troll.”

        Even your hero scholar here, Mr.Karnad, can be accused of “trolling.” It is all a matter of perception.

      • Have a twitter account but not active. Bad, I know.

      • Bhishma says:

        @Prem MK

        Dear Sir,

        Fair comment about me using a ‘troll’ label.
        I stand chastised.

        However, I don’t know enough of Mr.Karnad’s work to be a sycophantic hero worshipper. I’m an old school leftie and I doubt I would see eye to eye with Mr.Karnad on everything. No two humans can ever agree on everything. That said… as a patriotic Indian I find his approach refreshing and most sound.

        I literally just discovered Mr.Karnad last week on YouTube and thereafter sought out his writings and arrived at this website. I have yet to read a single book of his (will be rectified very soon).

        Just like you stood up for a total stranger being unnecessarily called a troll… I stood up for someone being unnecessarily disrespected. That doesn’t make you a busybody or make me a sycophant. Get it?

        That said…. This idea you mentioned of India arming a suitable rimland state of China with nukes actually sounds most excellent to me.

        We have been strategically pinned down by the Chinese arming of Pakistan with nukes. China has freedom of action and we got a permanent strategic distraction.

        Why shouldn’t we pay them back with the same coin? Hobble them in kind. Permanently cripple them by nuke arming a long term adversary of theirs. Vietnam is tailor made for that role. They have been warring with China for centuries – and winning. Since the days of the old Kingdom of Champa. Atleast the Vietnamese know how to take on and defeat bullies of any size- unlike us Indians. The Vietnamese don’t give two hoots who their enemy is. In ’79 I think… While the main Vietnamese army was destroying the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, China attacked northern Vietnam in force… And just the Vietnamese border guards and civil militia made the Chinese cry uncle. Typical of a bully… the Chinese declared victory – and hastily ran away! :-p

        Heck… I would go so far as to say that bankrolling all of Vietnam’s defence budget will cripple China more than we can ever hope to achieve in the Himalayas. Probably cheaper too.

        Arming Taiwan with nukes wouldn’t be needed at all. A big consignment of anti-ship Brahmos would suffice to keep any Chinese invasion fleet pause.

        Taiwan can and must be engaged comprehensively though. We should recognise them and welcome their tech expertise and investment. Also we don’t have enough people who understand the ‘Chinese’ mindset. Taiwan would be invaluable to us in that regard… And er.. In espionage as well.

  12. rama5678 says:

    More aircraft means someone will make some a killing.

  13. Sourav Chakraborty says:

    You need to consider couple of points.

    1. SU30 MKIs have serious maintainability issues. The serviceability of the fleet is below 60% and IAF has to maintain 950 engines for only 260 MKIs. This is because of poor overhaul period and engine life for the AL31 engines. It can’t be used for more than 2 sorties/day and maintenance time is too long.
    2. At high altitude bases like in Ladakh, AL31 engines don’t perform well and MKIs can’t use their full payload capability from those bases. Again MKIs are for the air superiority role and don’t meet the requirements in the Himalayan region.
    3. Lack of Air To Air capability. R77/R73 missiles are not good compared to AMRAM as we see in the recent conflict. MKIs are big and radar signature is big, also less capable for ground role so even for the Balakot strike IAF chose the M 2000 over the Sukhoi MKI.
    4. India needs a true multirole fighter which has great Air to Air and close ground support capabilities in the Himalayan Terrain. Rafale is the perfect combination of this with Meteor and Hammer. It is agile, has small radar signature and easy to fly. It will be used to take out enemy defence systems first and once air superiority is established then only will MKIs be activated

    • andy says:

      Serviceability of the Su 30 is about 65% , in 2016 the serviceability of the Rafale fleet in the French airforce was 48%.

      Some reports suggest that IAF has declined to replace the AL 31 FP engine with the AL 41 1S which was offered in the Super Sukhoi upgrade, which suggests that most issues plaguing the current engine have been fixed. The SU 30 has been wargamed for a two front war and 15 hour non stop missions have been flown , with the jets switching between the east and west fronts in the same sortie.

      At high altitude bases ALL fighter jets have a payload constraint, why single out the Sukhoi?

      The aircraft at higher altitude always has a range advantage, the F16s were at the altitude they wanted to be at, but the Sukhois had just taken off and still climbing to intercept them. Nevertheless, the Sukhois took countermeasures and evaded the AMRAAM, plus their primary task was to guard the military installations on the ground, which they accomplished by buzzing off the Pakistani jets . The AMRAAM does have a range advantage over the R77,but this can be resolved by integrating higher range Ato A missiles,like the Derby. Can’t reject the entire aircraft for a range deficiency in its missile.

      The envisaged primary Sukhoi role is air dominance,once the skies are swept clean by them,the other aircraft can carry out strike missions. But the Brahmos armed Sukhoi would be the most destructive in a strike role and if required would probably be the weapon of choice to take out Chinese S400 battery for example. The stand off range and blistering speed of the Brahmos plus the Mach 2 speed of the Su30 means that the missile has a huge velocity on impact, taking out the enemies hardened command and control centers,or even aircraft shelters would be easily accomplished. So don’t compare apples and cherries, there’s no comparison.

    • andy says:

      In DACT Exercises, Su-30MKI maintains a superiority over other aircraft in IAF Inventory like Mirage-2000 where it had a kill ratio of 1.41:1 in BVR and 1.94:1 in WVR. Given that the Rafale is superior to the M2k and the ratio is evened out for both BVR and WVR Vs the Sukhoi, it might still not go below 1:1. The question is wether the Rafale is worth the very steep cost?

      1 French built Rafale costs $236 million and 1 India built Su30 mki is $75 million (65 if made in Russia). Or 3 Su30s for the price of 1 Rafale. Who do you think wins in a fight where the ratio is 1 Rafale to 3 Su 30? With only a marginal difference in capabilities ,3 Su30s would make mincemeat of 1 Rafale .

    • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

      Even Brahmastr fails and Sudarshan chakr too। 😁

  14. SSD says:

    Opinion uncalled for…
    the pros & cons debate is long over.
    JAI HIND !!!

  15. Vaibhav singh says:

    Bharat ji Rafale was bought after very heavy testing which involved the best fighters of the world…and it was recommended by IAF despite its cost. I am sure it’s a game changer. We as citizens in various professions should not keep such strong opinions about military because we don’t know their equipment as well as they do nor do we use them. The pilots are happy with Rafale then let it cost anything.

  16. Ashok Kandimalla says:

    “…. and which have been tested and proven by the French Air Force against such military heavyweights as Libya and Syria!” Agreed, useless opposition. Could you tell us against which powerful adversaries the SU-30 has proved itself? IAF chief has said he had to allocate two of these against each F-16!!

    • Russian and Chinese Su-27s — Su-30MKI is a more powerful derivative of this aircraft — have, for the last many years, regularly buzzed US reconnaissance planes. Most recently, on August 28 this year, a pair of Russian Su-27s intercepted two American B-52H bombers over the Black Sea, flying within 100 feet of them — almost a collision run! The US strategic bombers felt compelled to turn around and head back home.

      • Bhishma says:

        @bharat karnad

        As you said in the article it’s clear the IAF has gamed this well with the French. They will (frustratingly) eventually get the full complement of their 126 MMRCA requirements filled with their off the shelf purchase of the expensive Rafale trinkets. That’s seems to be foregone conclusion.

        Just for the sheer sake of actual usefulness and some economy of scale for logistics I hope they do succeed in getting hold of a lot more than just 36.

        Thank you for mentioning the incident of the US bombers being chased away by Sukhois over the Black Sea. I just finished reading about the incident and it was hugely entertaining.

        Bombers… What about bombers for India? Your views. After the venerable Canberras… We have nothing. We have no bombers. And probably now a deep lack of bomber operational knowledge in the IAF. We need them.

        Someone in the comments earlier (An Admirer) claims that the 36 Rafales will be tasked with nuclear strike missions against Beijing. I detected no sarcasm in that comment. Obviously they have no idea of the distances involved and the lack of Rafales capacity for a nuclear strike that far away.
        Seems like the government hyperbole is working. Rafale can bomb Beijing and clean your dishes too. It does everything 🙂

        Anyway… Would like your views on the IAF’s total lack of any strategic bombing options. The only realistic option (to buy anyway) may be the very capable Russian Tu22 or (dreaming here) two squadrons of the Tu160 even. I don’t think anyone else (looking at you Uncle Sam) would sell us anything with similar capability.

        I have only been acquainted with your thoughts very recently Sir. I have yet to read a book of yours. I will be bookworming my way through them as soon as I get them.

        A few videos of yours on YouTube and now this website. It’s like I stumbled into into an intellectual platinum mine. Large nuggets everywhere.

        Thank you for your efforts for India. I hope there will be atleast one Indian government which takes note of the ‘Karnad School of Realpolitik and Badassery’ 🙂

  17. The requirement of Rafaele stemmed from the issues in data link during manoeuvres both between a pair as well as with the GES. Requirement was of improved, reliable and proven avionics for which we have no R&D to accomplish on our own steam. Timing was critical with the Dragon at the door.
    Your inputs please….

  18. IPC says:

    Your entire emphasis is on “No need of Rafale for India” and “Credit for thinking the need for Rafale goes to the pre-Modi regime.” Your concern is not India – “whether 36 Rafale dominate air bordering China in Ladakh is not the issue”. Then, what is the issue? Politics? That too at the cost of India’s defence?!

  19. CommonMan says:

    Please take some time to talk to any IAF fighter pilot regarding the operational envelope of Rafael vs the Su, and you will understand why we need the Rafale. Second, India needs at least 3 times the currently ordered number.

  20. Vaibhav says:

    Bharat sir!

    India has expressed interest in acquiring Embraer! What are your thoughts about this?

  21. Gangadhara says:

    Revisit Dassault make in India Rafale deal .china makes j20 indigenous ly. Any quantity and improves on it unlike india

  22. Apurva says:

    What about serviceability of SU30s.? Would need double the aircrafts. And what about the weapons package?

  23. IPC says:

    Username or Email 


     Remember Me
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    You are being asked to login because is used by an account you are not logged into now.

    By logging in you’ll post the following comment to Another 36 Rafales on the way?:

    Dear Prem M K, India never stole foreign technology, which came to India. India perfected cryogenic technology on its own – when denied by others. It sent its Mangalyan to Mars (first for Asia) on its own – how can you allot India a “fourth” category, that too on the basis of “Chinese phones” selling hot cakes in India? Do you know: USA stopped its companies selling its chips (miniature electronic circuits) to China, and China (Huawei) stopped making phones – so much for China making or selling phones and your objection to putting China’s stolen technology in “fourth” category.

  24. Sunderaam says:

    Rafales ar the future guardians of the indian skies ….

  25. Rud says:

    So babus are compromised, Armed forces are compromised, u say make in India , Abhijit iyer Mitra says Indians aren’t capable of it so buy any Western equipment. What the hell should we students do if we get into bureaucracy?

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