Rafale – Latest French Fighter Aircraft By Dassault Aviation 

The  Rafale is a multi-mission, multi-role air superiority fighter plane designed and developed by French company Dassault Aviation. Over a period of last decades, The Rafale has proved of combat capabilities with an excellent track record of performance.

The Dassault Rafale has also emerged as the most preferred choice for multirole fighter plane and recently bagged many international orders amongst most fierce competition.

In today’s modern warfare, the air superiority  over your adversary  is major strategic advantage and plays a crucial role in deciding the fate of the war or achieving the mission objectives .

Historically the nations with a modern  air force that can enforce the air superiority have always won the war , even with the relatively smaller size of the armed force.

Why France Decided to Develop its own Fighter Plane :

During the late 1970 the existing ageing  aircraft such as Mirage 2000  in service with French Air Force and navy needed to be replaced  with  modern  contemporary technology planes .

In order to save the development time , share the project development cost and technology and to facilitate future sales , The French government decided to  join the consortium of four countries which includes  Germany , UK , Italy and span which was already working on the project Eurofighter Typhoon  .

However as the work progressed on this consortium project , the disagreement immerged on many issues and the French government decided  to exit from the Eurofighter Typhoon project and  started working on building its own project .

Eurofighter Typhoon And Rafale Fighter

The France started the work on the project for its own fighter plane and the first prototype of Rafale was ready in 1986 for the technology demonstration .

Design And Development Phase :

The  French companies  already had a prior experience in the design and development of state-of-the-art  Mirage 2000 which is also a delta wing formidable plane still in active service with many countries.

And therefore, the French companies had the advantage of already  developed technological base for many  critical technological areas such as Radar , Engine , Avionics , fly-by-wire technology and weapon systems . The Rafale canard-delta wing design is basically  an aerodynamically unstable  aircraft and therefore this design needs a digital fly-by-wire  flight controls to artificially enforce and maintain the stability of the aircraft with the help of onboard computers.

However , In terms of technology , the Rafale is in a class apart. The Rafale incorporates latest  avionics and features, such as Direct Voice input, the RBE2 AA , Active Electronically Scanned Array ( AESA ) radar and the Optronique Secteur Frontal ( OSF ) , Infra-red Search And Track ( IRST ) and all these new technologies had to be  specially developed by  French companies for the Rafale project . The French companies had developed all these technologies indigenously without any external assistance.

Although Rafale  project did suffer some setbacks and delays due to project cost cuttings  and budget cuts in the post  cold-war era. It was indeed creditable for the French companies  to entirely design and develop a  4.5 plus generation plane within such a short span of time on its own . The Rafale has turned out to be amongst the finest and best in its class fighter aircraft .

Features And Specifications :

The Rafale is multi-role and  multi-mission state-of-the-art fighter plane which is stated to be 4.5 plus generation . The Dassault Rafale design is based on canard-delta wing and powered by two engines . The Rafale has been designed and developed by French company Dassault Aviation  which has an excellent track record of producing both world-class military and civilian planes.

The Rafale has been designed and developed as an “Omnirole” aircraft by Dassault Aviation for a wide range of operations such as

Engine :  The Rafale is a twin-engine aircraft which  is fitted with two Snecma M88 engines. Each Snecma M88 engine is capable of producing  up to 50 kN  of dry thrust and 75 kN  with afterburners.

Radar :  The initial variants of Rafale were  first fitted with the Thales RBE2 passive electronically scanned multi-mode radar . However , later on these radars were replaced with latest RBE2 AA Active Electronically Scanned Array ( AESA ) radar .

The Rafale in Ground Attack  Role  :

The Dassault Rafale has been specifically designed for both Air-to-air and air-to-ground roles and the Rafale has been marketed as an “Omnirole” to describe the effectiveness of the aeroplane in both the roles.

As compared to Eurofighter Typhoon, the Rafale doesn’t have as much as the thrust-to-weight ratio of the Eurofighter Typhoon, But the Rafale  far exceeds it in terms of payload and strike radius. And  Rafale can effectively perform both the roles reasonably well.

The Rafale’s ground attack capability mainly depends  upon the sensory targeting pods and other integrated systems and that includes Thales Optronics‘ New Generation pod , Areos reconnaissance pod and Damocles electro-optical and laser designation pod.

The integration of these sensor pods together provides all the required information to the pilot to get a lock-on to the  target and provides the ability to conduct  tactical reconnaissance missions.

This sensor pods system is also  integrated with the Rafale’s IMA architecture necessary for sharing the real-time analyzed data and other information  feeds to ground stations , friendly units  as well as other pilots part of the formation.

The  Rafale is also equipped  with sensors for ground attack role and the scalp missiles which can strike ground targets up to 300 km with pinpoint accuracy .

For long-range ground attack role , the Rafale is equipped with SCALP EG  Air-To-Ground  missile and has an effective range of  560 KM. The SCALP EG  missile is manufactured by MBDA  .

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The Rafale in  Air Supremacy  Role  :

The Dassault Rafale is a formidable opponent in both close and long range dogfight situation . The Rafale  is well equipped with latest  AESA radar , extremely potent air-to-air missiles which includes short range , medium range and very long range BVR missiles to effectively engage and neutralize all kinds of aerial threats .

The Rafale incorporates several passive sensor systems to effectively perform air supremacy role . The or. The Rafale makes use of  Optronique Secteur Frontal ( OSF ) which is a front-sector electro-optical system developed by French Thales. The OSF system is completely integrated within the aircraft and can operate both in the visible and infrared wavelengths.The OSF enables the deployment of infrared missiles such as the MICA at BVR – Beyond Visual Range distances .

The Rafele is now equipped with METEOR BVR developed by MBDA. The Meteor is an active radar guided BVR – Beyond Visual Range air-to-air  missile that  is capable of engaging  the targets at very long distances. The Meteor is a complete game changer.

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International Customers :

France : The Rafale is currently in service with French Air Force and navy .

Egypt : Egypt became the first international customer and purchased 24 Rafale.

Qatar : Qatar became the second country to purchase 24 Rafale in 2015 .

India : Indian government placed the order for 36 Rafale . The Indian Rafale will be the most advanced variant of Rafale with some India specific enhancements such as helmet mounted display ( Similar to American  F35 )

Watch Rafel Official Promo Video :