Bhailog, with reference to the article ‘Rafale deal takes jets to new level’http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_o_no4M2xEPY/S ... 00-h/1.JPG
If UAE indeed signs for 60 Rafale fighter aircrafts and UAE insists on ‘a more powerful engine, a new air-to-air missile and cutting-edge radar system’ as stated in the article and if India also eventually chooses Rafale in the MRCA competition, I was wondering:
1. Would India get the Rafale being flown right now by French air force or the new upgraded version as would be eventually supplied to UAE? The article says UAE is considering delivery of Rafale around 2014. This would be, in and around, approx. the same time as India starts getting deliveries of MRCA.
2. If India gets the upgraded version of Rafale, then what sort of TOT would India get from Rafale?
the MRCA RFP offer by Dassault were made quite a long time back, before the technical evaluation was done by the IAF. these lay out what specifications the Rafale will be offered with (the Rafale F3+, with AESA RBE-2 radar)- and if they do get selected for price negotiations, the IAF can ask for more specific equipment and customise it as they wish (such as a Thales Top Sight HMDS, because the Rafale doesn't have a HMDS as of now, or an Indian RWR, or Indian EW equipment, or a newer M-88-3 engine)- however, the price and time for integration will escalate as more and more engineering work is involved in customising it to IAF specs and hence in-service date will slide further to the right. It may make more sense to order it in batches, similar to the MKI program with the final batches being the specs that the IAF wanted- and then progressively upgrade all fighters to one spec.
these requirements of the UAE (mainly newer M-88-3 engines with more thrust and the MBDA Meteor integration) are still under negotiation and IF
they do sign the deal, there will be significant research that is required before it can enter service with the newer engine (there is still very little headway in this matter, AFAIK).
nevertheless, the Rafale F3 is now in Adl'A service and its specifications are really quite good. one very useful fact that the IAF will surely take notice of (although may not specify it in the MRCA requirements list due to the US presence) is that the Rafale will replace the Mirage-2000N in the Adl'A in the nuclear strike role. The September issue of Air International has a good article on the Rafale F3 and gives details on the ASMP-A integration on the F3. While the ASMP-A is a French specific missile and not offered for export, the very attractive feature of the Rafale F3's RBE-2 (PESA) was this- it can be used for air-to-air and ground strike modes WHILE being used in terrain following mode. This was not there on the Mirage-2000N, which was a drawback because nuclear strike roles always meant penetration into enemy territory at extremely low altitudes to avoid radar detection (and so the dark green/gray camo on the Mirage-2000N. from a look-down perspective, the Mirage-2000N almost became invisible against ground clutter, especially in areas with foliage)
Also, the Mirage-2000N had a very short detection/tracking range in air-air combat and this meant it likely required escort, even though nominally, it could self-escort with MICA IRs. the Rafale can easily carry a nuclear payload, while also carrying MICA IR and MICA EM missiles, giving it a very credible self-defence capability that would be priceless for the IAF. simultaneous air-to-air and ground strike modes on the AESA radar it chooses would surely be something that the IAF would want, so the backseater would target the ground while the front seater would scan the airspace for any bogeys.
This would mean that the Mirage-2000s that are now tasked with the nuclear strike role can be replaced by the Rafale and offer the IAF a significantly stealthier, more capable platform that has more payload as well, which allows for it to carry self-defence air to air missiles.
please read up on how long it took for the F-16 Block 60 to enter UAEAF service after it was signed for. LM took a few years to complete R&D and flight testing of the AESA, and other goodies on the Block 60.
Maybe India should start work on modifying the Brahmos air-to-ground missile to become a nuclear strike missile like the ASMP-A instead of depending on free-fall nuclear bombs that put the platform that carries it under significantly higher risk of being shot down. the advantage of stand-off range on the Brahmos would mean that the Pakistani cities could be targeted well out of the range of fighters on defensive CAP.