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In a recent interview, Indian Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar announced the Indian Navy’s plans to acquire 26 Rafale M fighter jets. The contract for these jets is expected to be finalized in 2024, with deliveries commencing in 2027.

The Rafale M is the naval variant of the Dassault Rafale fighter jet, which is currently in service with the Indian Air Force. The Rafale M is designed to operate from aircraft carriers and will provide the Indian Navy with a significant boost in its offensive and defensive capabilities.

However, Admiral Kumar emphasized that the Rafale M is an interim solution until the Indian Navy’s Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) program is fully developed. The TEDBF is a more advanced fighter jet that is specifically designed for carrier operations.

The TEDBF program is still under development, but Admiral Kumar expressed confidence that the aircraft will be ready to replace the Indian Navy’s ageing MiG-29K fighter jets by 2035. The TEDBF is expected to offer superior performance and capabilities compared to the Rafale M.

The Indian Navy will be extensively testing the Rafale M from a shore-based ski-jump facility known as SBTF (Shore shore-based test Facility). The SBTF replicates the conditions of an aircraft carrier deck, allowing pilots to practice takeoffs, landings, and other carrier-based operations before deploying to sea.

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