Rafale fighter, France
Before europeans was thinking about how to make the Eurofighter Typhoon in early 80's, Dassault was world expert about designing successfull and "Legendaire" Delta winged Mirages fighters around the world, the nightmare of most world's air forces since 50 years,the Rafale is the natural son of this state of arts familly, especially the Mirage 4000,Rafale was ordered to replace French Air Force Jaguars and Navy Crusaders and Super Etendards and Mirages 2000, Mirage IV "nuke" and Recce; for early development history, see 1990-91 and earlier Jane's; first flight of Rafale A prototype (F-ZJRE) 4 July 1986; Rafale programme's 2,000th sortie, 5 September 1994. ACE International (Avion de Combat Europeen) GIE set up in 1987 by Dassault Aviation, SNECMA, Thomson-CSF and Dassault Electronique, partly to attract international partners. Production launch officially authorised, 23 December 1992,. First Rafale B and Rafale M ordered 26 March 1993. Four preproduction aircraft, as under:
To accelerate programme of the most modern operational fighter in the world, early Rafales for navy ares to SU0 interceptor standard, lacking ASMP, helmet-mounted sight, OSF and voice command controls; definitive SU1 attack version will be delivered subsequently to replace Super Etendards. Air force plans similarly limited capability for initial aircraft, but cost-saving measures applied in 1995 included postponement of first deliveries to 2005, when full standard aircraft will be available. Dassault offers export Rafale MK2 with Aesa antenna aircraft from 1999.Rafale is operational in the navy and shown all his efficience starting with Trident D'or exercise,Enduring Freedom 2001 Afghanistan, exercises against F18's and Tomcat's of the US navy clearly demonstrated the Rafale superiority over world best navies jets.
Rafale B: Originally planned dual control, two-seat version for French Air Force; weight 350 kg (772 lb) more than Rafale C; 3 to 5 per cent higher cost than Rafale C. Being developed into fully operational variant for either pilot/WSO or single pilot combat capability.
Rafale C: Single-seat combat version for French Air Force. Detailed description applies to Rafale C, except where indicated.
Rafale D: Original configuration from which production versions derived; now `Rafale Discret' (stealthy) generic name for French Air Force versions.
Rafale M: Single-seat carrierborne fighter; navalisation weight penalty, 610 kg (1,345 lb); take-off weight from existing French carrier Foch limited to 16,500 kg (36,376 lb); has 80 per cent structural and equipment commonality with Rafale C, 95 per cent systems commonality. Navy's financial share of French programme cut in 1991 from 25 to 20 per cent.
Rafale is the only one in the world designed to simultaneously perform ground attack and air-to-air combat missions. In addition, its ability to superimpose functions such as beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air firing during the very-low-altitude penetration phase, gives Rafale impressively broad multirole capabilities, along with its high degree of survivability.
Minimum weight and volume structure to hold minimum cost; thin, mid-mounted delta wing with moving canard; individual fixed, kidney-shaped intakes without shock cones. Design around modulars parts of airframe , integrated systems and engines was done to provide the best low operating costs of 21th century 5th generations Fighters.
Hydraulically retractable tricycle type supplied by Messier Dowty, with single mainwheels and twin, hydraulically steerable, nosewheels. All wheels retract forward. Designed for impact at vertical speed of 3 m (10 ft)/s, or 6.5 m (21 ft)/s in naval version, without flare-out.
POWER PLANT: TWO SNECMA
Maximum rating in production aircraft. Internal tanks for more than 5,325 litres (1,406 US gallons; 1,171 Imp gallons) of fuel. Fuel system by Lucas Air Equipement and Zenith Aviation; equipment by Intertechnique. One 1,700 litre (449 US gallon; 374 Imp gallon) drop tank on centreline; 2,000 litre (528 US gallon; 440 Imp gallon) drop tank on each inboard underwing pylon; and/or 1,300 litre (343 US gallon; 286 Imp gallon) tank on each centre underwing pylon. Maximum external fuel 6,600 litres (1,742 US gallons; 1,452 Imp gallons). Pressure refuelling in 7 minutes, or 4 minutes for internal tanks only. Fixed (detachable) in-flight refuelling probe on all versions.
Pilot only, on SEMMB (Martin-Baker) special anti-G Mk 16 zero/zero ejection seat, reclined at angle of 29° or 32° Max. One-piece Sully Products Speciaux blister windscreen/canopy, hinged to open sideways to starboard. Canopy gold-coated to reduce radar reflection.
With an empty weight of about 10 tons, Rafale is fitted with 14 hard points (13 on the Rafale M). Five of these are designed for external tanks and heavy ordnance. Total external load capacity is over 9 tons – nearly 20,000 pounds.Rafale's modular and standardised design compliant with the Stanag 1760 allows users to integrate ordnance from non-French sources.
Provision for more than 780 kg (1,720 lb) of avionics equipment and racks.
Comms: EAS V/UHF and TRT Saturn UHF radios. TEAM intercom; Sextant Avionique voice activated radio controls and voice alarm warning system. Thomson-CSF/CNI SB 25A IFF. Chelton aerials. Radar: GIE Radar (Thomson-CSF/Dassault Electronique) RBE2 look-down/shoot-down radar, able to track up to eight targets "ground or air" simultaneously, with automatic threat assessment and allocation of priority.
Flight: SOCRAT VOR/ILS; SAGEM Sigma RL90 INS (interface with carrier's navigation on Rafale M); Thomson-CSF NC 12E Tacan; Sigma RL-90 ring-laser gyro INS; Thomson-CSF/CNI AHV 17 radio altimeter and SFIM/Dassault Electronique flight recorder. Sextant Avionique GPS.
Cockpit: Digital display of fuel, engine, hydraulic, electrical, oxygen and other systems information on collimated eye-level display and two lateral multifunction touch-sensitive colour LCD displays by Sextant. Fourth cockpit screen is head-level tactical navigation/sensor display. Sextant Avionique CTH3022 wide-angle, holographic HUD incorporating Thomson TTD Optronique OTA 1320 CCD camera and recorder. Sextant/Intertechnique Topsight helmet-mounted sight.
Cockpit in details:
Mission: Thomson-TRT/SAT OSF electro-optical sensors. MIDS (Multifunctional Information Distribution System) datalink (equivalent to JTIDS/Link 16). Various reconnaissance, ECM, FLIR and laser designation pods. Self-defence: Spectra radar warning and ECM suite by Thomson-CSF, Dassault Electronique and Matra. Thomson TTD Optronique DAL (Detecteur d'Alerte Laser) system, many reports stated that French use active cancellation on Rafale, but this is strongly classified.
All versions of Rafale are fitted with the Giat Industries Defa 791 30-mm cannon, which fires 2,500 rounds per minute. in side of port engine duct. Fourteen Alkan external stores attachments: two on fuselage centreline, two beneath engine intakes, two astride rear fuselage, six under wings and two at wingtips. Forward centreline position deleted on Rafale M. Normal external load 6,000 kg (13,228 lb); maximum permissible, 8,000 kg (17,637 lb). In strike role, one Aerospatiale ASMP standoff nuclear weapon. In the interception role, up to eight Mica AAMs (with IR or active homing) and two underwing fuel tanks; or six Micas and 5,700 litres (1,505 US gallons; 1,254 Imp gallons) of external fuel. In the air-to-ground role, typically sixteen 227 kg (500 lb) bombs, two Micas and two 1,300 litre (343 US gallon; 286 Imp gallon) tanks; or two Apache standoff weapon dispensers, two Micas and 5,700 litres of external fuel; or FLIR pod, Atlis laser designator pod, two 1,000 kg (2,205 lb)laser-guided bombs, two AS.30L laser ASMs, four Micas and single 1,700 litre (449 US gallon; 374 Imp gallon) tank. In the anti-ship role, two Exocet or projected ANS sea-skimming missiles, four Micas and 4,300 litres (1,135 US gallons; 946 Imp gallons) of external fuel.
In Sep 2013, France is likely to replace Britain in the international intervention to defeat Syria government. France will most likely use Rafale and Mirage fighter jets to attack Syrian targets. It is reported that Scalp air-to-surface missiles equipped Rafale fighters are deployed and ready for battle in Corsica. More Rafales are stationed in Abu Dhabi, while Mirage 2000 fighters have been deployed in Djibouti