How Powerful is the French Rafale Fighter Jet?

Rafale is a twin-jet fighter plane that can perform various short and long-range missions, including ground and maritime attacks.

Rafale, produced by Dassault Aviation, is a twin-jet fighter plane that can fly short- and long-range missions. It can be employed for various offensive and defensive purposes, including ground and naval attacks, surveillance, high-accuracy strikes, and deterrence against nuclear threats.

Dassault designed this jet for the French Navy and Air Force. The fighter plane was employed in Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, Syria, and Iraq combat missions. Egypt, Qatar, and India have also placed orders for the aircraft.

In 2019, Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition displayed a Rafale fighter jet. By the beginning of 2019, 152 of the 180 aircraft ordered by the French air force and Navy had been delivered.

When production resumed in 2022, the firm will be able to deliver the final 28 planes. The French Navy and the French Air Force began using the Rafale between 2004 and 2006. The aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle can accommodate ten fully functional aircraft.

In May 2015, the State of Qatar and Dassault Aviation signed a contract to purchase 24 Rafale combat jets. Qatar exercised its option for 12 further fighters in December 2017, making the contract’s total value $7 billion.

As of February 2019, the business had begun delivering the Rafale fighter jets to the Qatari Emiri Air Force. The Rafale F3-R was certified as the primary model by the French defense procurement agency (DGA) in October 2018.

The F3-R is an upgraded variant of the Rafale F3, boasting greater flexibility. The French government sanctioned the creation of a new, more advanced Rafale F4 standard in March 2017. Dassault Received a contract to develop the Rafale F4 standard in January 2019.

How Powerful is the French Rafale Fighter Jet? 

Rafale fighter aircraft development

In June 2006, when the first squadron was formed, the Rafale B and C entered service with the French Air Force. 2008 saw the formation of the second airforce squadron.

 In February 2004, the French Ministry of Defense granted Dassault Aviation (€1.5 billion), Snecma (€600 million), Thales (€500 million), and other French contractors a €3.1 billion ($3.89 billion) contract to create the fully competent F3 standard aircraft.

In December 2004, an order was placed for 59 F3 aircraft, 47 for the airforce (11 two-seat and 36 single-seat) and 12 for the Navy (single-seat). The certification of the Rafale F3 occurred in July 2008

The Rafale F2 aircraft will be upgraded as part of the contract. In 2008, France received its first Rafale F3 fighter jet. As part of its support for the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, the French armed forces stationed six Rafale fighters in Tajikistan in March 2007.

In November 2009, the French government ordered sixty Rafale fighter jets. Dassault Aviation was the recipient of a $4 billion deal with the Brazilian government in January 2010 to deliver 36 Rafale multirole aircraft.

The United Arab Emirates planned to spend $10 billion on Rafale aircraft to replace its fleet of 60 aged Mirage fighters. However, negotiations stalled in November 2011 when the UAE considered Dassault’s pricing and terms “uncompetitive.”

The Eurofighter Typhoon is being considered as a replacement for the country’s aging Mirage jets. The Indian Air Force’s MMRCA (medium multirole combat aircraft) program decided to purchase Rafale in February 2012. Valued at almost $20 billion, the contract is substantial.

Rafale beat several competitors to win what is being called the largest military aviation deal in history. Eurofighter’s Typhoon was its main rival.

The agreement calls for Dassault to provide 126 Rafale fighter jets. By 2015, the first 18 fighters would have been delivered, and the rest would be produced in India thanks to a knowledge transfer to Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). If the contract goes through, it will be Rafale’s first foreign sale.

In April 2015, the French and Indian governments concluded agreements to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft (28 single-seat and eight double-seat models).

In September 2016, a multilateral agreement was reached to enable the acquisition with a value of €7.87bn ($8.82bn). In October 2019, France handed off the first of many planes to India.

The Arab Republic of Egypt and Dassault Aviation signed a sales agreement in February 2015 to deliver 24 Rafale combat jets. In July 2019, it delivered its 24th aircraft.

How Powerful is the French Rafale Fighter Jet?

The cockpit of Dassault’s Rafale Multirole Combat Fighter.

The cockpit has a manual throttle and control stick (HOTAS). Thales Avionique’s heads-up, the wide-angle holographic display, is installed in the cockpit and is used for viewing flight information, mission details, and fire signals.

A collimated multi-image head-level display presents the tactical situation and sensor data, while two lateral touchscreen displays show the aircraft system parameters and mission data.

The pilot also has a set of optics and a screen attached to his helmet. The HUD’s image is captured by a CCD camera and stored in an onboard recorder throughout the operation.

Rafale fighter weapons

Air Force variants of the Rafale have 14 hardpoints capable of carrying over nine metric tonnes of cargo, while navy variants have 13. Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM, and AMRAAM are some AA missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick, and PGM100 are AA missiles; Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3, and Harpoon are AA anti-ship missiles; and there are many more.

Rafale may transport the MBDA (previously Aerospatiale) ASMP stand-off nuclear missile for strategic missions. The Rafale was certified to carry the MBDA Storm Shadow / Scalp EG stand-off cruise missile in December 2004.

The first test of the Rafale fighter outfitted with the MBDA Meteor BVRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile took place in September 2005. A variety of Rafale’s weapon systems, including the Exocet, Mica, Scalp-EG, ASMP-A (to replace the ASMP), and Meteor missiles, underwent successful flight trials out of Charles de Gaulle in December 2005.

The Rafale successfully launched the first Sagem AASM precision-guided bomb in April 2007, equipped with both GPS/inertial guidance and imaging infrared terminal guidance.

 Since 2008, the Rafale has been fitted with the Advanced Attack Subsystem (AASM). Each of Rafale’s six AASM missiles has a target accuracy of 10 meters.

There are two Nexter (previously Giat) 30mm DEFA 791B cannons in the Rafale’s twin-gun pod, each with a rate of fire of 2,500 rounds per minute. The Rafale can guide air-to-ground missiles with lasers because of its integrated laser identification pods.

How Powerful is the French Rafale Fighter Jet?

Countermeasure and sensor technology on the twin-jet combat aircraft.

The Spectra EW system from Thales is installed in Rafale. There are solid-state transmitters, a DAL laser warning receiver, missile warning and detection systems, and jamming devices.

Thales’ RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar, installed on the Rafale multirole combat aircraft, can both look down and shoot down incoming threats. The radar can monitor eight objects at once, allowing for the detection and prioritization of potential dangers.

In February 2011, Thales fitted the Rafale with an electronic version of the RBE2. In 2008, the Rafale’s radar underwent flight testing for the first time.

In May of 2009, Thales granted RUAG Aviation a $5 million contract to manufacture components for the RBE2 radar installed on the Rafale combat plane.

The Thales / SAGEM OSF infrared search and track system is mounted in the aircraft’s nose and is part of the avionics system. The optronic suite can automatically discriminate and track targets, conduct a search and identify targets using telemetry.

The French Ministry of Defense awarded Thales a ten-year contract in January 2012 to maintain the aircraft’s electronic systems and warfare.

Navigation and communications of Dassault Aviation’s Rafale

The Rafale uses a second-generation, anti-jam tactical UHF radio for NATO called the Saturn onboard very/ultra-high frequency (V/UHF) radio. This radio is a part of the communications suite on the Rafale.

Voice communications can be encrypted using Saturn’s fast frequency hopping mode. In addition, the aircraft is outfitted with a fixed-frequency VHF/UHF radio to facilitate communications with civil air traffic control.

A multifunction information distribution system terminal, often known as a MIDS terminal, allows for the interchange of high-data-rate, secure tactical information with NATO C2 stations, AWACS aircraft, or navy ships. The Rafale multirole combat fighter is powered by two M88-2 engines, each of which delivers a thrust of 75 kilotons (kN).

The Rafale is outfitted with a navigation receiver made by Thales called the TLS 2000, and it is utilized during the approach phase of flight. The functions of the instrument landing system (ILS), the microwave landing system (MLS), the VHF omnidirectional radio-ranger (VOR), and the marker are all incorporated into the TLS 2000.

The radar altimeter is a model from Thales called the AHV 17, and it is designed for use at extremely low altitudes. The Rafale is equipped with a TACAN tactical air navigation receiver, which can be used both for navigation during flight and as help when landing.

The SB25A combination interrogator and transponder was developed by Thales and is installed in Rafale. The SB25A was the first IFF to include electronic scanning technology in its operation.

Rafale Multirole Combat Fighter engines.

The Rafale is propelled by two SNECMA M88-2 engines, each generating 75 kilotons of force (kN) thrust. The aircraft has a flight refueling hose reel and drogue pack, so it may do buddy-buddy refueling with other aircraft.

In 1996, the very first M88 engine was shipped out. It is best suited for low-altitude penetration and high-altitude interception operations and is powered by a twin-shaft bypass turbofan.

The M88 uses cutting-edge innovations such as a non-polluting combustion chamber, bladed compressor discs (blisk) made from a single piece of metal, powder metallurgy discs with ceramic coatings and composite materials, and high-pressure turbine rotors made from a single crystal.

The M88 engine is made up of the following parts:

  • A three-stage low-pressure (LP) compressor with an inlet guide vane
  • An annular combustion chamber
  • A single-stage high-pressure (HP) turbine
  • A single-stage low-pressure (LP) turbine
  • A radial A/B chamber
  • A variable-section convergent flap-type nozzle
  • Full-authority digital engine control (FADEC)

When the nose gear strut launches the plane, Messier-“jumper” Dowty’s landing gear will automatically deploy.