Nuclear Missile Launch To Increase Rafale's Appeal for India
12:00 AM, June 22, 2012
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The Rafale fighter aircraft has acquired nuclear deterrent capability following the successful first operational evaluation launch of a nuclear-capable missile carried out by the French Air Force. Winner of the Indian MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) contest, the fighter carried the ASMPA (Air Sol Moyenne Porte Ameliore) cruise missile, minus the nuclear warhead, to test its strike capabilities. The nuclear missile launch will add to the Rafale's multi-role capabilities and the Indian Air Force may get more than what it bargained for. The testing of the Rafale with a cruise missile might add a substantial new capability and improve its potential utility for the Indian Air Force (IAF). So far, the IAF had thought of the MMRCA as a ground attack and air superiority role but not a strategic bomber. It has chosen the much bigger Sukhoi 30 MKI for this role and plans to test the Brahmos cruise missile on it sometime this year or the next. Although the contract with Dassault and the Indian MoD is yet to be signed and the losing finalist, Eurofighter is still hopeful and has offered a price 'adjustment' meaning to undercut the Rafale offer, the cruise missile launch capability should further solidify Rafale's appeal to the IAF and further weaken Eurofighter's chances.
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