India on Friday, will test the Rafale-M (Marine) jet for use on its Vikramaditya aircraft carrier as well as the indigenous aircraft carrier 1 (IAC1), which will be deployed as the INS Vikrant, at the INS Hansa in Goa, a shore-based test facility. The aircraft for the test arrived Thursday.
The Rafale-M aircraft is the F4 equivalent standard naval version of the Rafale. The marine version of the Rafale jet has a reinforced undercarriage and nose wheel, a bigger arrester hook, an integrated ladder, and other minor differences from the Rafale currently in use in the Indian Air Force.
According to people familiar with the matter, the Rafale-M is better suited for use on the aircraft carriers than the F18 Hornet fighter from the US for several reasons. They pointed out that it can fit into the lift bay of the Vikramaditya, unlike the F18 which cannot fit the lift of the Vikramaditya even with folded wings.
The Rafale-M’s dimensions also mean more of them (14) can fit onto the deck of the Vikramaditya as compared to 10 or 11 F18s.