The French Ministry of the Armed Forces submitted the amendment earlier this month regarding the upcoming efforts of the Rafale program, in particular those related to the new F5 version to be developed under the Military Planning Program (LPM) 2024-2030.
This revelation is significant because the European next-generation combat aircraft program, known as the Future Fighter Aircraft System (FCAS), in which France is also a participant, is finally moving on after being stalled for a long time.
According to the French media, Dassault Aviation had contemplated abandoning the deal and developing a French alternative (as Plan B) if the FCAS program failed to break the deadlock.
At the time, as part of his media offensive, Dassault boss Eric Trappier reportedly said he had a concept for significant development of the Rafale, a kind of Super-Rafale that will work alongside a Loyal-type medium combat drone. Wingman created using the technological advances of the nEUROn program.
However, the FCAS program was later saved when the partner countries, France, Germany and Spain, resolved their differences and signed a contract for the program’s research, development and demonstration activities.
In March this year, the FCAS partners officially kicked off the crucial Phase 1B of the program at an event held at the Air and Space Forces Headquarters in Madrid.
After a long period of stagnation that at one point heralded the inevitable French withdrawal, the FCAS program has made significant progress. However, despite the investment and commitment to FCAS, the French have not given up on the idea of developing and flying a Rafale fighter that shares some principles with the next-generation European aircraft.
The concept of the Rafale F-5, or “Super Rafale”, has been around for a while and already made headlines in 2021. Frédéric Parisot, Deputy Chief of the French Air and Space Forces, said: “Dassault Aviation is preparing to bring a standard F5 of the existing aircraft, “endowed with impressive capabilities.”
“In the early 2030s, the F5 standard will enable the Rafale’s first-entry capability to be further enhanced, with new sensors and weaponry, but also communication, collaboration, and interoperability capabilities,” the report states.
However, it may be the first time that an official French statement to its Parliament reveals concrete details about the program.
Rafale F5 and its cutting-edge capabilities
The amendment outlines some capabilities that will be developed as part of the Rafale F5 program, including significantly increased processing power.
Most importantly, two new key capabilities are introduced, namely the suppression of enemy anti-aircraft defenses (SEAD), on the one hand, and the development of a combat drone presented as a “derivative” of the technological advances of the nEUROn program. , which constitutes a first in French official communication.
It was recognized that it was now necessary to equip the Rafale in its future versions with the ability to suppress enemy anti-air defenses, also known as SEAD, Meta Defense reported.