I understood that effectively all versions of the Rafale are carrier-capable (i.e. structurally strong enough to take deck landings etc) but the air force versions don't need the arrestor hooks and other specific carrier kit.
There are 3 versions in use according to wikipedia: B, C and M - B and C are air force, M is navy.
Thanks ... one to watch.
What will really rub sand into the wound is that the F-35 will be cancelled and we order a handful of Rafales for the FAA. well, if we can buy our Army lorry fleet (and civilain trains) from Germany it's entirely logical we export our aerospace jobs to France to fly aircraft off our flagship carriers.
Er, I mean carrier.
It's the large amounts of composites that do that I think, and the Eurofighter is similar in that respect. The M still had to be strengthened, the undercarriage lengthened, lose the front middle hardpoint to make room for a more substantial nose wheel, etc to put up with regular carrier work.
A problem with the Eurofighter is that the suggested naval version
- to try and sell to India - is for STOBAR operations not CATOBAR. If they wanted to bodge a bigger front wheel to cope with catapults I'm not sure whether it is easier or harder with the wheel not being in the nose to start with.
EDIT: I don't think the Indian purchase will be the M but just the bog standard air force ones. They currently don't have catapult carriers but are talking about it.