Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Parent System: Rafale
Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Family Members: Rafale B
and Rafale C
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Description: The Rafale is a twin-engine, multi-role aircraft designed to provide improved survivability, lethality, availability and maintainability over current Mirage 2000 aircraft. The Rafale aircraft family will be operational well into the 21st century, beyond 2040. It will be able to accommodate all the current weaponry of the French Armed Forces inventory, as well as munitions available in the future. The Rafale aircraft will perform air defense, surface attack, nuclear deterrent, and reconnaissance missions with minor changes on the airframe. The Rafale aircraft will be available in three 3 models: Rafale M for carrier based operations, and Rafale B and C for conventional airfield based operations. They will replace up to six aircraft types within the French Armed Forces (Super Etendard, Crusader, Mirage F1, Jaguar, Mirage IV, and early Mirage 2000). The Rafale aircraft were delivered in the Standard F1 comprising air-to-air capabilities. The F2 standard available since 2005 adds air-to-ground capabilities. Standard F3, the last one, available in 2007 allows the use of nuclear weapons aboard the Rafale aircraft.
The Rafale's survivability concept is achieved through the low-observability concept (no-stealth concept) that comprises integrated countermeasures system (Spectra), two engines, reduced or discreet IR and radar signatures, advanced integrated electro-optical sensors (Rafale FSO) and an electronically scanned array radar (RBE2) providing advanced capabilities. In addition, latest generation weapons will allow the Rafale aircraft to operate from standoff ranges. The use of pods is requested for air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions being available Damocles targeting pod, Recce NG reconnaissance pod, and NAVFLIR navigation pod. The Rafale's weapon options comprises a built-in 30mm gun, Mica air-to-air missiles, Exocet, Apache, ASMP, and Scalp EG air-to-surface missiles as well as Paveway II and BGL bombs. In the future the Rafale could incorporate the AASM, ASMP-A, ANF, and Meteor missiles improving its air-to-air and air-to-surface performance.
The single-seat Rafale M (Marine) has been developed to replace the Super Etendard and Crusader aircraft onboard the French aircraft carrier/s. It will perform any mission currently carried out by current French carrier-based aircraft. Rafale M achieved initial operational capability in 2002 onboard the Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The French plans to procure up to 60 Rafales to equip two aircraft carriers. On June 25, 2004, Rafale F1 standard entered service with the French Navy's 12 Flottille or 12F at Landivisau naval air base. The 10 Rafale M assigned to 12F will be deployed on the Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The Rafale M program scope was optimized for one one aircraft (Charles de Gaulle) with 31 aircraft to be procured.
The Rafale Ms onboard Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier proved fully operational in May 2006 during combat missions in support of multinational forces deployed in Afghanistan. Early in March 2007, the French Air Force deployed for the first time three Rafale fighter aircraft to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in support of ISAF operations in Afghanistan. Another 12 Rafale M aircraft based at Charles de Gaulle carrier were expected to join the ISAF operations shortly. On March 24, 2007, three Rafale F2 equipped with laser guided bombs and based at the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier performed successfully their first combat mission over Afghanistan.
On September 24, 2004, the French Ministry of Defense awarded a €3.1 billion multiyear contract for 59 Rafale aircraft to an industry team comprising Dassault Aviation (€1.5 billion), Snecma (€600 million), Thales (€500 million), MBDA and Sagem. The Rafale aircraft ordered by the French Armed Forces will be furnished following the multi-role standard F3 specifications. Deliveries are expected to begin in June 2008 and will continue through January 2012. Under the terms of the multiyear contract, the French Navy will receive 12 carrier-based Rafale Ms to replace aging Super Etendard aircraft. French Minister of Defense, Alliot-Marie, announced that the third batch of Rafale, comprising 59 aircraft, turn into firm order on December 6, 3004, during a speech at the French Senate about Defense budget. The Rafale first batch contract was awarded in 1994 and was set for 13 aircraft. The second order was awarded in 1999 for 48 aircraft. The third order was announced in September 2004 consisting of 59 aircraft and 118 engines. The total number of Rafale ordered for the French armed forces now stands at 120 units.
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