Rafale Fighter Jet

The export prospects for the Rafale fighter jet faced initial challenges, but gradually, its sales are gaining momentum. Qatar, India, and Greece have shown considerable interest in acquiring Rafale, indicating its growing popularity in the global market.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that the Rafale comes with a substantial price tag, approximately €100 million, making it one of the most expensive fighter jets in the world. A 2011 study by the University of Toulon revealed this cost disparity compared to its competitors, such as American jets, Swedish Gripens, and Eurofighters. The relatively higher cost has made the Rafale somewhat less appealing to potential buyers.

Nevertheless, Dassault Aviation surprised the world in 2021 when the United Arab Emirates placed a groundbreaking order for 80 Rafale aircraft. The company confirmed receiving the first down payment for these fighters in April 2022. Adding to this success, Greece also acquired six brand-new Rafales at the beginning of that year.

Rafale Fighter Jet

Former French Rafale navy pilot, Pierre-Henri “Até” CHUET, who has now turned keynote speaker, revealed in an interview with the EurAsian Times that, “the aircraft wasn’t ready to be sold initially; it wasn’t fully finished. From the beginning, the Rafale was marketed as a multirole, multi-mission platform, but the computer systems, data, and weapons were not yet operational.”

In the early stages, Rafale faced challenges in guiding and deploying bombs. However, it underwent significant evolution and development, particularly between 2013 and 2015, during which Pierre-Henri “Até” CHUET transitioned to the Rafale from Super Etendard in 2014.

France advances in the variant of the Rafale F5 despite the commitment with Germany and Spain on the FCAS.

Até, with his distinguished background in flying combat missions in Iraq and serving as the lead pilot for the 2017 Navy Rafale display at the 2017 Yeovilton Air Show, emphasized, “The plane was very different from the beginning. So, when it wasn’t fully developed, it didn’t sell as much. However, once it became the marketed product, sales started picking up.”

He further explained, “France aims to maintain sovereignty over its industry, and that takes time. A long-term program is essential to keep your defense industry at a higher level.”

Até also highlighted the distinctive feature of the Rafale – all sensors and systems integrated into the main screen. This set the Rafale apart from other aircraft of the same generation. “With just this center screen, the pilot can have a moving map, access 2D and 3D radar, DataLink transfer data from other aircraft links16, electronic countermeasures (ECM), and electronic information, providing excellent situational awareness,” he said. The Rafale’s design prioritizes convenience for the pilots, allowing them to change screens, clear maps, and customize the display according to their preferences.

For electronic warfare and self-defense, the Rafale is equipped with the SPECTRA system, ensuring protection against airborne and ground threats while gathering electronic intelligence.

Furthermore, the Rafale employs Reco NG aerial reconnaissance (AEROS) and Damocles targeting pods for precise strikes and imagery intelligence (IMINT) missions.

While the Rafale’s engine is commendable, it is not considered the best in the world. In this aspect, the Typhoon’s fighter jet engine takes the lead. However, Até emphasized the significance of overall situational awareness, stating that a deep understanding of the aircraft and one’s opponent can compensate for the engine’s power disparity.

Quoting from Dassault-aviation.com, the Rafale boasts impressive capabilities, with an empty weight of 10 tons and 14 hard points (13 in the Rafale M). Five of these hard points can handle drop tanks and heavy weaponry, while the total external load capacity surpasses nine tons (20,000 lbs), enabling the Rafale to carry a payload equivalent to its own empty weight. Additionally, mid-air refueling missions can be carried out in regions beyond the reach of specialized tanker aircraft, further enhancing its operational range.

With its exceptional payload capacity and state-of-the-art mission system, the Rafale excels in both air-to-ground attacks and air-to-air strikes, making it a versatile and formidable fighter jet.