Amidst the backdrop of the Centre’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has officially asked Dassault Aviation to begin the process of incorporating indigenous armaments, such as the Astra, a formidable beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile, and the cutting-edge Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW), into the formidable Rafale fighter jets, as disclosed by high-ranking government officials.
The Rafale, a marvel of 4.5-generation fighter aircraft, presently boasts an assorted array of European munitions in its inventory, counting the Meteor air-to-air missiles, among other potent air-to-ground armaments.
Upon the successful integration of indigenous weaponry into the Rafale, India stands poised to venture into the prospect of exporting these sophisticated arms to other nations, including but not limited to Egypt, Qatar, Greece, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Presently, the IAF operates a fleet of 36 Rafale jets stationed at strategically important air bases in Ambala and Hasimara, respectively situated in Haryana and West Bengal.
Furthermore, the Indian Navy has made decisive moves to acquire 26 Rafale-M fighter jets, which shall be expertly deployed from the decks of the Indian Navy’s two prestigious aircraft carriers, namely INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya, both of which currently operate MiG-29K aircraft.