There is no end to misinformation, baseless allegations against the Rafale deal. The latest to join the list is former Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav, with a rather hilarious allegation.
Talking to media on 26th October, he said, ‘we are hearing that the Rafale fighter was originally a two pilot plane, now it has been converted into a one pilot plane. Which plane was used to be flown by two pilots will now be flown by only one pilot. Who will answer these questions? I am not an expert’.
True, we can’t blame Akhilesh Yadav for not being an expert about fighter planes, but at least he can do some basic study before making such wild allegations.
Aeroplanes are very complex machines, and fighter jets are even more complex. One can’t just modify a supersonic jet from twin-seater to single-seater like it is some motorcycle. Like most fighter aircraft, Rafale also has two variations, single-seater and twin-seater, the two-seat version is known as Rafale B. Both versions are developed parallelly from the beginning, and it is simply not possible to convert an existing twin-seater plane to a single-seater one or vice-versa.
Twin seater fighter jets are generally used for training purposes, which can accommodate both the trainer and the trainee pilot. But they are useful in combat situations too, where the second pilot maintains communications, cooperates in controlling the weapons etc, while the first pilot flies the plane.
Now coming to the Rafale jets that India is buying, no, Rafale is not removing one seat from Rafale jets before selling them to India. In fact, India has ordered both versions of the aircraft, 28 in single-seat form and rest 8 in twin-seat form. The Twin-seaters are christened as RB series, after Air Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria, and the individual planes are numbered from RB001 to RB008. On the other hand, single-seaters are known as BS series, after Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, and they are numbered as BS001 to BS028.
In fact, that first Rafale that Dassault has completed building for India is a twin-seater plane. The plane is numbered RB008, which is scheduled to start test flights in this month itself.
Instead of removing a seat, actually, the Rafale jets made for India has several additions that are not there in the standard jet, including helmet mounted display, low band jammer, radar enhancement, radio altimeter, towed decoy system and ability to start and operate from high altitude airspace.