IAF releases photographs of Rafale carrying the Scalp air-to-surface stealth cruise missiles

Published : October 04, 2021 21:27 IST

A Rafale carrying a Scalp missile on its ‘centreline’ pylon. The Rafale was accompanied by the Netra Airborne Early Warning and Control System firing flares to distract infrared-homing air-to-air or surface-to-air missiles. The fighter aircraft was also carrying two external fuel tanks and what experts deciphered as four MICA air-to-air missiles. Photo: INDIAN AIR FORCE

The Indian Air Force released on October 4 images of its Rafale fighter aircraft carrying the new generation air-to-surface ‘Scalp’ stealth cruise missile. Emblazoned with the caption “When you know how to be Smart and Pretty - Ways of the World”, the tweet from the IAF (@IAF_MCC), showed a Rafale carrying a Scalp missile on its ‘centreline’ pylon. The missile, manufactured by the European defence giant MBDA, is designed to minimise radar detection and can fly at a very low level. It is an essential part of the Rafale’s weapons package.

The images showed a Rafale fighter accompanied by an indigenously developed Netra Airborne Early Warning and Control System firing flares which are used to distract infrared-homing air-to-air or surface-to-air missiles. The released photographs showed the Rafale also carrying two external fuel tanks and what experts deciphered as four MICA air-to-air missiles.

While MBDA advertises the stealth missile’s range as being “in excess of 250 kms”, defence experts claim that the missile can hit targets up to 560 km away, depending on parameters such as its launch altitude. Designed to hit and destroy high value stationary, strongly protected targets deep inside enemy territory, including hardened bunkers or key infrastructure, Scalp missiles are equipped with highly advanced radar and sensors and a navigation system that includes a combination of GPS, inertial navigation and “terrain reference”. The last mentioned attribute allows the Scalp to dodge and fly around structures such as hills or buildings to reach the intended target.

The Scalp and its British derivative, the Storm Shadow, have already seen action in multiple conflicts during the past two decades, including the invasion of Iraq and air strikes over Libya and Syria. Besides the Royal Air Force and the French Air Force, the Scalp and Storm Shadow missiles have been exported to Italy, Greece, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among others.

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