In India, the Rafale demonstrates great carrying capacity on Ski-Jump

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Recent photos show that, during platform tests in Goa, the Dassault Rafale M demonstrated great carrying capacity on ski-jump.

Since the beginning of January 2022, Dassault Aviation and the Team Rafale participate to an extensive test campaign aimed at determining the performance of its fighter, the Rafale M (for Rafale Navy), to operate from an aircraft carrier equipped not with catapults as for the PAN Charles de Gaulle of the French Navy, but from a springboard or ski-jump, like those that equip the two aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy, the INS Vikramaditya already in service and theINS Vikrant, the first locally-made aircraft carrier to complete its sea trials.

Although the French teams showed obvious serenity as to the results expected during these tests, it still remained for the aircraft to demonstrate not only its ability to take to the air from such a springboard, but also to determine what would be the operational capacities and the limitations resulting from such a procedure, in particular in terms of fuel and armament carrying capacities.

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As usual, Dassault Aviation was hardly verbose about the results recorded, contenting itself with pithy press releases signifying that everything was going as planned.

But a photo published on Indian social networks tells us more about the performance of the device in this configuration, suggesting that the Rafale would be close to being as comfortable on a springboard as with a catapult.

Indeed, this photo shows the Rafale M dedicated to tests in an impressive carriage configuration, with two 2000 liter subsonic canisters, 2 medium-range Mica EM missiles, two Mica IR self-defense missiles, and an AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missile under the fuselage, i.e. a configuration entirely comparable to that implemented by the French Navy from the Charles de Gaulle for anti-ship missions.

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Despite a Ski-Jump takeoff, the Rafale evolves in heavy configuration
The photo published on Indian RS shows the Rafale Carrying an AM39 Exocet anti-ship missile, two 2000 liter canisters and 4 MICA missiles

This photo, which there is no reason to doubt was taken after takeoff from the Goa test Ski-Jump, shows that the Rafale is capable of carrying heavy loads, more than 5,5 tonnes in external loads, and therefore of reaching a maximum take-off mass in the Ski jump configuration of between 20 and 21 tonnes, i.e. a mass very close to that commonly used. work aboard the French aircraft carrier.

Above all, in this configuration, the Rafale has an exceptional operational range of almost 1000 km, much greater than that achievable, for example, by the J-15s deployed from Chinese navy aircraft carriers.

Indeed, if the J-15 has a maximum take-off weight estimated at 27 tonnes, it also has an empty mass of 17 tonnes, and must expend considerably more energy, and therefore fuel, to get airborne and stay in flight as the Rafale and its 10,5 tonnes empty.

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