Maiden flight of India’s first Rafale

The first Dassault Rafale of an Indian Air Force order for 36 of the type made its first light from the manufacturer’s airield at Bordeaux-Mérignac on October 30. Although it is the first to ly, the aircraft involved, a two-seater with the serial number RB 008, will be the last to be delivered to the Indian Air Force, in April 2022, ive years and seven months after the inter government agreement to buy the aircraft was signed.

The aircraft will be used to test and certify India-speciic enhancements (ISE), which can only be employed after certification, and which will be unique to India’s jets.

The structural changes to the basic Rafale airframe are incorporated on the production line but necessary software upgrades will be installed, seven aircraft at a time, when all 36 jets have been built and test lown. The ISE include Israeli-made helmet-mounted display sights, a mixture of locally produced and commercially available ofthe- shelf equipment including weapons and light data recorders and infrared searchand- track, and electronic warfare and identiication friend-or-foe systems. An unusual requirement included in the ISE is for start-up devices to enable the jets to operate from very high airields.