SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.
The induction of the 20+ French-origin Dassault Rafale F3-R Omni-role fighters into the Indian Air Force and remaining coming in the next few months not only comes as a big boost to India’s Aerial supremacy in the subcontinent but also comes as a major overhaul to India’s nuclear triad and as a major boost to the nuclear warhead delivering system from Air. It is speculated that a significant proportion of the 36 Rafale that is been inducted by IAF, will also be assigned to the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), which is responsible for initiating the process of delivering nuclear weapons and warheads.
Dassault Rafale will be taking over the role of delivering nuclear warhead from the air, which is one of the nuclear triads of India, the other two being land (missiles) and sea (SLBM) from another French origin Mirage-2000 fighter jets that have been in charge of this role for the last 20 plus years now. Dassault Rafale F3-R comes with many India-specific enhancements and many are reportedly being configured for delivering a credible retaliatory nuclear strike on rivals.
Rafale F3-R to execute a successful nuclear strike will be using its terrain following and masking capabilities, including its ability to fly at night and in adverse weather conditions to the fullest. F3-R that has a high degree of cockpit automation will also ensure that flying at a low profile will be much safer and that combined with frontal reduced Radar Cross-section (RCS) will ensure that the aircraft will remain undetected when flying to deliver a nuclear warhead over enemy airspace.
SPECTRA electronic warfare suite that has been enhanced for a better low profile but also to ensure that aircraft after delivering its warhead can head back home safely. The addition of RAM-1701AS radio altimeter for height measurement while in flight also indicates that the F3-R variant has been developed as a multi-role strike fighter from the outset, with priorities on nuclear strike role.
F3-R since been configured as strike aircraft can also carry out pre-emptive conventional precision strikes on enemy nuclear arsenals so has to deny them the first strike opportunity in a possible full-scale war. F3-R retains all the formidable air superiority elements that it brings to the Indian air force (IAF) that includes the introduction of the next generation Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) with a range of 170km, that not only gives the aircraft an edge but also able to strike first when challenged on conventional strike missions.
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