Indian Naval Base at Goa hosts Rafale-M trials ahead of official commissioning this year
On Thursday, the French-made Rafale maritime fighter jets made their first trail demonstrations in Goa in advance of the official commissioning this year. The display was conducted for the Indian Navy at the shore-based test facility (SBTF) to check the capability and suitability of the Rafale-M ship.
As per reports, the US is also slated to roll out the showcase of its Boeing-manufactured fighter F/A-18 in March this year at the SBTF. Bot the jets, Rafael-M and F/A-18 are competing for India's requirement for fighters to operate from the 40,000-ton IAC, which will be commissioned as the INS Vikrant in August.
Indian Navy needs at least 26-27 carrier-capable fighters
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The Indian Navy presently has only one aircraft carrier, the 44,500-tonne INS Vikramaditya. The vessel was inducted from Russian for $2.33 billion in November 2013, where another $2 billion were invested to procure 45 supersonic MiG-29K fighters to take off from its deck. As of now, the Indian Navy needs at least 26-27 carrier-capable fighters. The final number will be eventually decided on the basis of the government-to-government deal.
It may be noted here that the Navy in the past had rejected the naval version of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft, labelling it incompatible for its single-engine fighter. The aircraft cannot take off from a carrier as of now. It has been further highlighted that the development of the indigenous twin-engine deck based fighter may take another 10 years.
This is where Rafale-M and F/A-18 come into the picture. Both the jets have twin or double engines. While Rafale-M will be commissioned this year, it will be allowed to operate fully after the necessary trials are completed from its deck by around 2023, a report read.
- With inputs from TOI