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India officially requests France to acquire 26 Rafale M combat aircraft.

| 2023

According to information published by Adda247 on October 31, 2023, India has formally approached the French government with a Letter of Request (LoR) to procure 26 Rafale M fighter aircraft for the Indian Navy.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and the Kiev class aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. (Picture source: Indian Navy)

The LoR serves as a detailed document, laying out India’s precise needs and specifications for the Rafale Marine jets. The Indian government has thoroughly delineated its requirements for these advanced fighters, earmarked to operate from its aircraft carriers, INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya.

Following this critical step, the Indian Navy, in conjunction with the government, is focused on fast-tracking the procurement. The objective is to rapidly finalize the contract, facilitating the swift induction of the Rafale Marine jets.

The Defence Acquisition Council has approved the procurement, estimated at around Euro 5.5 billion. This approval came just ahead of the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to France as a state guest for their Bastille Day parade in July.

The proposal entails the delivery of 26 Rafale Marine aircraft to the Indian Navy, comprising 22 single-seater fighters and four trainers. These jets will augment the existing MiG-29 fleet on INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant, significantly boosting the Navy’s combat readiness. India is also seeking to integrate its indigenous missiles, including the Astra air-to-air missile, with the Rafale jets.

Technical aspects

The Rafale M is specifically designed for carrier-based operations. It possesses a reinforced airframe and arrestor hooks necessary for takeoff and landing on carriers like INS Vikrant, a STOBAR carrier engineered for such operations. The dimensions of the Rafale M align well with the deck and hangar spaces of INS Vikrant, allowing for efficient storage, movement, and operation.

INS Vikrant uses a ski-jump for takeoffs and arrestor wires for landings, and the Rafale M is designed for arrested landings, making it suitable for operations on the carrier. Moreover, the Rafale M's payload capacity and range are in line with INS Vikrant’s role as a power projection platform, indicating good operational compatibility.

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