Rafale F1 Cleared for Operational Service


Released on Friday, June 25, 2004
France
AM39 Exocet
Charles de Gaulle
Damocles
Rafale M
RBE2
Reco NG
Spectra
AESA - Active Electronically Scanned Array
IR - InfraRed
The French Navy at the Landivisau naval air base officially cleared Rafale Marine F1 standard for operational service on June 25, 2004. Currently the French Navy has 10 Rafale M multirole aircraft assigned to 12 Flottille or 12F (12 Squadron) at Landivisau, France.

The entry into service of F1 standard is a key milestone in the Rafale development program with F2 and F3 standards to be cleared for operational service before 2010. Rafale Ms have been based in Landivisiau since 2001 and eventually they have been deployed aboard Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier during training operations "Heracles" and "Agapanthe".

The Rafale F1 Standard fits in air defense role requirements equipped with RBE2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system and Mica dual seeker IR/RF beyond-visual-range missile. F2 standard will support air-to-surface functions and will introduce new equipment such as frontal sector optronics, MDPU modular mission computer, and the MIDS tactical data link. Testing and implementation of F2 standard is scheduled to begin in September 2004.

The F3 standard is the last planned Rafale standard, according to current public information, providing fully operational capabilities to Rafale as an omni-role aircraft. The Rafale F3 will be able to operate the ASMP-A long range air-to-surface missile armed with a nuclear warhead and the AM39 anti-ship missile. Compatibility with RECO NG reconnaissance pod and other improvements are also included in the F3 standard package.

In the near future after the F3 standard entry into service, it is expected that Damocles laser designator pod will be integrated on Rafale as well as new weaponry under development and improvements to existing equipment installed on the aircraft such as RBE2 radar and Spectra Electronic Warfare suite.

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