Saturday, November 6, 2010

Is Rafale too heavy for MMRCA ?

Rafale in heavy load configuration

According to Cmde Jasjit Singh, director of the Center for Air power Studies (New delhi), the MMRCA contest should focus on truly medium weight fighters.

"At around 24,000 kg maximum weight, the French Rafale and the European Eurofighter Typhoon also come closer to the upper end of a medium combat aircraft. They offer great advantage in the quantum of fuel and weapon load carried, but it is only actual operation and detailed cost calculations that can tell us of their desirability in our inventory. This leaves us with two types with obvious advantages of being clearly in the category of 'medium' multi-role combat aircraft that have been offered in the RFP: the US Lockheed-Martin F-16IN Super Viper and the Swedish Saab Gripen NG/IN, both configured specially to meet Indian requirements"
"the choice that comes closest to the 'medium' multi-role aircraft that the IAF has been seeking since a decade ago (the Mirage-2000 type) is the Swedish Gripen IN which has maximum and empty weights at around 17,000 kg and 7,000 kg respectively, almost equal to that of the Mirage-2000. Since the Mirage 2000 is not in the running anymore, this makes it necessary to focus on the aircraft type closest to the medium combat aircraft, that is, the Swedish Gripen and Lockheed-Martin F-16, with the EADS Eurofighter Typhoon included at the higher end"

If there is no question about the gripen IN being in the same weight class as the Mirage 2000-5, The F-16E/IN, however, is much heavier.
In fact, naked, the F-16E/IN weights the same as the Rafale C, but the french plane is able to carry 30% more load.

The chart below shows the empty and maximum load weight of each aircraft, sorted by increasing empty weight :
While the Rafale is the second lightest jet of the contest (same as the F-16) it is also the second best for maximum payload (just behind the F/A-18E).

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