New Delhi: Indian Navy Chief Admiral Hari Kumar said both the American F/A/18 Super Hornet and French Rafale Marine are acceptable to his force for its aircraft carrier. The Indian Navy is searching for a fighter aircraft for its indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. Admiral Kumar said the navy is also looking at how similar the Rafales in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF) are with the marine version that the navy is looking at.
According to him both the F/A-18 Super Hornet and Rafale Marine fighters have passed the required tests but added that there are many other issues which will be considered before the final decision is taken. The IAF already has 36 Rafale aircraft in its arsenal divided among two squadrons, one based in Ambala in Haryana and the other in West Bengal’s Hasimara.
Rafale Marine is a naval version of the fighter jet with a similar configuration. The aircraft has a delta wing design and is capable withstanding 11 g and is available in single as well as dual seat variants. It is 15.27 metres long and has a wingspan of 10.80 m. The Rafale has GIAT 30M/719B cannon mounted on it with controlled 0.5 or 1-second bursts at 2500 RPM. It is equipped with a primary missile in the multi-target fire and forget mode. The aircraft can carry air-to-air MBDA MICA missile as well as the Meteor for beyond visual range combat.
The F/A-18 has been developed by American aerospace and defence giant Boeing and has a 20 per cent larger airframe with 41 per cent more range and more improved General Electric’s F414 engines, providing 35 per cent more thrust than the Rafale. It has a speed of 1.8 Mach which is similar to the Rafale. The F/A-18 has a M61A1 Vulcan rotating canon that can fire 6,000 rounds per minute. It is equipped with a semi-active radar, homing air intercept missile known as the AIM-7 Sparrow. In the beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, the Super Hornet has AIM-120 AMRAAM.