Pod, weapons for Indian Rafales still not finalised
The first Indian Rafales will be armed with MBDA missiles. But New Delhi has yet to finalise pod and bomb selections.
In 2019, India is expected to receive the first of its 36 Dassault Rafales.The contract with French industry also includes MBDA's Mica and Meteor air-to-air missiles and the Scalp/Storm Shadow cruise missile. However, India has not yet ordered a laser designation pod or bombs.
Thales is offering the Talios pod, which was qualified on the Rafale at the end of 2018 as part of the F3R standard. At the Aero India show, the French manufacturer is highlighting the functions and performance of the sensors currently available with the Talios. But Thales is also underlining future enhancements under the Rafale F4 standard, which is currently under development.
Talios can, for example, be coupled to the helmet-mounted sight, which is part of the F4 standard. Thales is also offering a "Vision Permanent" function, which will superimpose real-time imagery on a 3D map of the operational environment. Thales also wants to use artificial intelligence to allow the pod to automatically identify targets on the ground. Finally, functions developed for the Reco-NG pod will be integrated in order to allow the Talios to also carry out reconnaissance missions.
The Rafale has been sold to Egypt with a French system, but Qatar has chosen Lockheed Martin's Sniper pod.
Concerning the selection of air-to-ground weapons, India could choose Safran's A2SM modular weapon, but Israel has also offered weapons such as Rafael's Spice glide bomb. The Rafale can also carry American GBU guided bombs.
The Rafale is also on offer to the Indian Navy, which is seeking to acquire 57 carrier-borne fighters. In this case, the Rafale could be equipped with the AM39 Exocet missile.