Images of a Rafale fighter jet carrying a Scalp cruise missile was released by the Indian Air Force in one of their tweets on Monday.
The missile believed to have a range of 500 km is capable of intercepting targets at a 560 km distance (depending on parameters such as its launch altitude) was seen on the ‘centreline’ pylon of the fighter and is said to be a part of the weapons package.
What is a Scalp missile?
Known to be as the ‘game changer’, The Indian Air Force received the SCALP and Meteor missiles for its Rafale fighter jets the previous year. Manufactured by European defence giant MBDA, it is designed to hit high value and strongly protected targets.
The Rafale jets are capable of carrying two of the missiles that will enable them to hit virtually any enemy target. SCALP is also said to be a stealth missile that can escape radar detection and fly at low levels. The said missiles were used in the Gulf War and have been a part of the UK’s Royal Air Force along with the French Air Force.
Although India is equipped with the air-launched Brahmos missile, the Scalp is believed to come as an additional boost to the IAF’s air defence capabilities.
According to one of the MBDA officials, The missile is capable of carrying out high destruction against high-value assets such as bridges, railroads, power plants, airfields, buried bunkers and command and control centres, and can also be able to evade enemy air defence units with its ground-hugging trajectory.
On the other hand, the Rafale jets can also carry Meteor missiles which are next-generation BVR air-to-air missiles (BVRAAM) designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat. The MBDA developed missile is guided by an advanced active radar seeker while all-weather capability is provided by it to engage a wide variety of targets from fast jets to small unmanned aerial vehicles and also cruise missiles.
In the past two decades, the SCALP along with its derivative Storm Shadow missile has been used in several conflicts including airstrikes over Libya and Syria and also in the invasion of Iraq.
Major acquisition in 23 years
An inter-governmental agreement was signed with France for the procurement of 36 Rafale jets in 2016 at a cost of around ₹59,000 crores. Out of the total order placed to Dassault Aviation, 26 jets have been received by India so far.
The twin-engine jets have the capability of carrying out a variety of missions, such as ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance along with nuclear strike deterrence. After the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia 23 years back, these jets are considered to be India’s first major acquisition of fighter jets.
After flying for around a distance of almost 8,000 km from France, the seventh batch of three more Rafale fighter jets arrived in India in July while the first batch of the jets arrived on July 29 the previous year.
A squadron comprises around 18 aircraft, and the new batch of the aircraft is said to be a part of the IAF’s second squadron of the Rafale jets that shall be based in Hasimara airbase in West Bengal. On the other hand, the first Rafale squadron is said to be based in the Ambala air force station.