Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pre-Flight Operation Involving The Rafale Fighter Aircraft At Its Airbase.....And Then Whoooosh!!!, Up It Goes [Video]

Video provides a look into the pre-flight activities performed at a French airbase, and the subsequent flight of the Rafale.

The Rafales, in this video, are located on the French island of Corsica. At 6:13 you can see the airmen pulling out the barrel of the GIAT 30M 791 cannon that Rafale are fitted with. Capable of delivering some serious PWNAGE.

via TVcockpit

With the contract with France for the acquisition of around 126 of these fighters expected to signed by February-March 2013, it was recently reported that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [H.A.L] has completed setting up of the assembly line required to build the aircrafts in India. Technology transfer can happen only after the contract has been signed, following which production is expected to begin in the country.

A disheartening statement attributed to an unnamed H.A.L. source in the second linked article seemed to suggest that France would only be supplying Complete Knock-Down [CKD] kits which would then be assembled in the country,

"While Rafale will give some aircraft in flying condition to the defence forces, the rest will come as kits to be assembled. It’s more like completely knocked down kits,” says a person who retired from a senior position at HAL while expressing his scepticism of the shape HAL would take in the coming days. He adds that though the assembly line of MMRCA is ready, there’s no technology transfer."

This seems to run contrary to statements made earlier, one of them being the first article I linked to in this post itself, which categorically stated transfer of technology & local offsets.

"Under the terms of purchase, the first 18 aircraft will come in a ‘fly away’ condition while the remaining 108 will be manufactured under Transfer of Technology. The vendor finally selected would also be required to undertake 50% offset obligations in India. The ToT and offset contracts would provide a great technological and economic boost to the indigenous defence industries which would include Defence Public Sector Undertakings, Raksha Udyog Ratnas and other eligible private sector industries. Foreign vendors would be provided great flexibility in effecting tie up with Indian partners for this purpose."

- Request for Proposal for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft Issued

From my understanding & past practices, they are both right in the limited views expressed/quoted. If one were to recollect, the first batch of Sukhoi Su-30MKIs that India flew, arrived from Russia in similar CKD condition. Subsequently, with the assimilation of the technology transferred & developing a reliable supply chain within the country itself, H.A.L. has demonstrated its ability to build them in India,

"The deal combined license production with full technology transfer and hence was called a 'Deep License'. The MKI production was planned to be done in four phases: Phase I, II, III and IV respectively. The original plan called for the MKI production to be complete by 2018. While Phase I would see complete aircraft shipped to India, and reassembled, Phase II would see MKI's manufactured from SKD (Semi Knocked Down) kits, whereas Phase III would have MKI's made from CKD (Completely Knocked Down) assemblies as well as Indian made aggregates. Phase IV would see MKI's made from local raw materials, with locally manufactured systems (upwards of 90%)."


Choosing to build the Rafale from scratch right at the onset could impose time delays on the production schedule, till the time folks at H.A.L. have demonstrated competency over the technology handed over to them, a proposition India can hardly afford to contemplate. This progressive approach to aircraft building is, therefore, a wise thing to do.


Related: an Indian experiences flying in the Rafale multi-role combat aircraft