With a combat range of 780-km to 1,650-km depending on mission, the Rafales come armed with a deadly weapons package, advanced avionics, radars and electronic warfare systems to prevent jamming by adversaries and ensure superior survivability in hostile contested airspace.
The Rafales are armed with ‘Meteor’ air-to-air missiles (120-150 km strike range), ‘Scalp’ air-to-ground cruise missiles (over 300 km) and other armaments.
The Meteor missiles are arguably the best in the world for air combat duels, with “a greater no-escape zone” for hostile fighters than any comparable BVR (beyond visual range) weapon. Pakistan and China do not currently have any missiles of this class in their combat inventories.
Each Rafale can also carry two fire-and-forget Scalp cruise missiles to hit high-value fortified targets well over 300-km away.
India is planning to also equip its new Rafale fighter jets, which already have a deadly weapons package, with the “Hammer” air-to-ground precision-guided munitions amid the ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh.
The 20- to 70-km range Hammers, designed to destroy bunkers, hardened shelters and other targets in all terrains including the mountainous ones in eastern Ladakh, will be procured under the emergency financial powers granted to the armed forces during the confrontation with China.
They will be able to outgun and outrun Pakistani F-16 and JF-17 as well as the Chinese Chengdu J-20 fighters.
The Rafales will also be equipped with the MICA weapon system which is integrated into IAF’s Mirage 2000 aircraft. They are also capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
The 13 India-Specific Enhancements (ISEs) or upgrades on the 36 Rafales will become fully operational in 2022 after undergoing “software certification” after all the jets have arrived in India.
The upgrades range from radar enhancements, Israeli helmet-mounted displays and low-band jammers to towed decoy systems, 10-hour flight data recording and engine capability for “cold start” from high-altitude regions like Ladakh.