“21st Century” Aerial warfare is no longer based on the lethality of a combat aircraft like it always have been in the past nor can it be judged on basic criteria like speed,agility, and firepower of the combat jet. Next generation Aerial warfare not only demands cutting edge firepower but also Smarter jets which can take up a host of new roles while in air and switch between several different missions in the same sortie.
Rafale Omnirole Combat Aircraft selected by India under MMRCA Contract was not only most advanced fighter jet but also smartest aircraft by far which was equipped with array of sophisticated electronics systems and equipment which let it beat its competition with ease and American legacy fighter jets like F-16 and F-18 currently been offered to India under ” Make in India ” lost the race by a mile .
Rafale provides its pilots unprecedented level of data fusion which combines information from all the different systems and sensors and allows the pilot to gather high-resolution imagery and allows him to target guided weapons with pinpoint accuracy and also defend aircraft from hostile actions in a combat zone .
8 Equipment which plays a crucial role in making Rafale Smarter but also makes it 25 % of the plane value are explained below 1 ) Spectra Electronic Warfare suite :
Spectra is the first line of defence for Rafale aircraft . identifying,locating and jamming electromagnetic,infrared and laser threats . the system incorporates radar warning receiver, laser warning and Missile Approach Warning for threat detection plus a phased array radar jammer and a decoy dispenser for threat countering It also includes a dedicated management unit for data fusion and reaction decision. Spectra also has ELINT functions, for recording and analyzing the characteristics of hostile emitters and their locations.SPECTRA is a major contributor to the low observability concept of Rafale which reduces aircraft’s apparent radar signature. SPECTRA system consists of two infrared missile warning sensors which provide 360-degree coverage and ensure detection/warning of incoming threats. 2 ) AREOS: (Airborne Recce Observation System)
is a stand-off reconnaissance system, from Thales, which provides rapid day/night imagery intelligence for reconnaissance and identification in any weather conditions . AREOS gathers HD imagery at long range and across a wide area with information transmitted from air to ground via a high capacity data link . Composed of an airborne pod and a ground/shipboard station, AREOS combines state-of-the-art imaging technologies with high-performance data-links. These advanced functions save precious time in the sensor-to-shooter loop to quickly meet evolving mission demands, including the new requirements of peace-keeping operations. 3) Communication Navigation identification suite :
Secure State of the art communication, navigation and identification capabilities of Rafale fighter jet including ECCM and IFF and tactical data links provide an ultimate edge to Rafale fighter jet. 4) Damocles Multifunction Targeting Pod and TALIOS :
Damocles is a third generation laser designation pod which provides weapons guidance and a full suite of sensors for navigation and air-to-air target identification . As per F3R standard will see adoption TALIOS Multifunction Targeting Pod for Rafale fighter jets, India likely will get TALIOS next-gen laser designation pod which provides imaging and engagement capabilities under day and night conditions . TALIOS is the first optronic pod to cover the entire critical decision chain from intelligence gathering to weapon delivery. Capabilities range from the deep strike with long-range missiles and bombs to air-to-air target identification and close air support and include the rapidly emerging requirement of Non-Traditional Information, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (NTISR). TALIOS can be equipped also with upgraded Mirage-2000 of Indian Air force . 5) AESA RBE2 :
Active Electronic Scanning in the RBE2 radar represents a major step in the evolution of radar technology. All radar functions are performed in the same flight. RBE2 radar makes it possible to switch radar modes quickly, thereby enabling operational functions to run simultaneously. RBE2 is automatic and highly versatile, sorting and ranking tracked targets allowing the pilot to track multiple targets while scanning and is also first operational European active radar antenna which will allow India to integrate its own Indigenous Astra BVRAAM and as per F3R standard Rafale fighter jets will also see the integration of European Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles . 6) Frontal Sector optronics (FSO) :
FSO is a Multisensor suite ( IR, TV, Laser Range Finder ) which can Simultaneous carry out functions like Tracking and Identification in Air-to-Air & Air-to-Surface capabilities . FSO allows the pilot to spot enemy aircraft without been detected and is also immune to radar jamming because it operates in optical wavelengths .
7) Advanced Man Machine Interface (MMI) :
Rafale fighter jet boasts of best Man-Machine Interface which helps in creating instant situational awareness for the pilot. A Well informed pilot also gets first mover’s advantage to make tactical decisions which can change the outcome of each mission and even a war. Modular Data Processing Unit :
Various sensors onboard also requires powerful mission control computer which can create perfect data fusion for the pilot and enable him to carry out multiple missions in the same sortie or reconfigure his aircraft for next mission in the shortest span of time .