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Dassault Aviation Aims at New Rafale Market

Our Bureau - : Nov 1, 2022 - : 5:58 pm

Dassault Aviation is eyeing new markets for its Rafale fighter jet which has rapidly notched up export orders from seven export customers. SE Asia remains a key market for the airframer and Indonesia added to Dassault Aviation’s rapidly swelling orderbook in February with an order for 42 aircraft. The order from the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara (Indonesian National Army Air Force) also includes a complete turnkey solution, with a comprehensive package covering aircrew training, logistical support for several Indonesian air bases, and a training center with two Full-Mission Simulators. At the signing ceremony in Jakarta, Dassault Aviation announced that Indonesia had signed up for 42 latest-generation Rafale aircraft, which could indicate Indonesia’s preference for the Rafale F4 which is the fourth development standard of the French fighter jet.

Dassault Aviation has now found customers for the Rafale in Egypt, India, Qatar, Greece, UAE, Indonesia and Croatia. The United Arab Emirates contract for 80 Rafale F4s which was inked in December 2021, was the largest military export order ever secured by Dassault Aviation. France has ordered a total of 192 Rafale’s, purchased in successive orders (the latest order for 12 aircraft was placed after the sale of 12 second-hand Rafale aircraft to Greece). Egypt was the first Rafale export customer and has ordered 54 aircraft – 24 in February 2015 and 30 more in May 2021. One additional Rafale was ordered in August 2021 to replace an aircraft that damaged in a 2019 accident. Qatar has ordered 36 Rafales – 24 in May 2015 and 12 in December 2017. India has taken delivery of all 36 Rafale aircraft ordered in September 2016. Dassault Aviation is proposing the Rafale-M for an Indian Navy requirement for 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBF) and the Rafale F3-R for an Indian Air Force requirement for 114 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA). Greece placed orders for 18 aircraft in January 2021, divided across 12 second-hand aircraft and six new fighters. Croatia placed orders for 12 second-hand Rafales in November 2021.

Rafale F4 for the Future

The Rafale F3-R Standard entered French Air and Space Force service in 2021 and incorporates MBDA’s Meteor long-range air-to-air missile and Thales Talios new-generation targeting and laser designator pod. All Rafales delivered since 2013 are fitted with the RBE2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The Rafale F4 will see the addition of Helmet-Mounted Display capabilities, integration of Mica NG Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) and the 1,000-kg AASM Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon. There will also be significant upgrades to the Rafale’s Spectra Electronic Warfare (EW) suite, upgraded frontal sector optronics (OSF), integration of the Thales TArgeting Long-range Identification Optronic System (TALIOS) and upgraded RBE2 AESA radar. It will also accommodate future evolutions of ASMP-A, SCALP, AASM 1000 kg weapons.

The Rafale F4 will deliver greater connectivity to increase the aircraft’s data processing capacity, improved air-to-air and air-to-ground armament, enhancements to the radar and Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and ensure greater availability and operational readiness of the aircraft through introduction of a fault prediction and diagnostic aid system. French Rafale F4s will enter service in two stages in 2023 and 2025 and provide a technological, industrial and strategic leap over earlier Rafale configurations: F1 (specific to first French Navy aircraft), F2 (air-to-ground and air-to-air capabilities), F3 and F3R (extended versatility). The Rafale F1 Standard featured only air-to-air capabilities and became operational in 2004 with the French Navy on Rafales launched from the Charles de Gaulle nuclear aircraft-carrier during operation “Enduring Freedom”. The F2 Standard entered service with the French Air Force and the French Navy in 2006, adding both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. The Rafale F3 was qualified by the French MoD in 2008 and added the AREOS reconnaissance pod, anti-ship capability with the AM39 EXOCET (implemented in Rafale B, C, and M), and the nuclear capability with the ASMPA. The first Rafale F3 was delivered to the Air Warfare Centre and Operational Test & Evaluation Centre (CEAM) of the French Air Force in mid-2008 at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base.


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