Dassault Rafale

Dassault Rafale

Rafale- click for Hi Res image


    The Délégation Générale pour l'Armement (DGA) July 1 qualified the Rafale combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation to the full F3 multimission standard,The first deliveries of aircraft produced to the F3 standard will start at the beginning of 2009.

   The F3 standard allows the Rafale to use the anti-ship missile AM39, the Reco NG reconnaissance pod and deliver the ASMP-A nuclear missile. The F2 model flies air-defense and ground-attack missions.

F3 “Omnirole” Version

     Gasparini told AIN that the next deployment of Rafales to Afghanistan will be to the F3 standard, which entered service in France last year. The F3 is the “omnirole” version, which by 2011 is to be additionally capable of firing AM-39 Exocet Block 2 anti-ship missiles and the ASMP-A nuclear strike missile. The Thales Damocles IR/laser navigation and targeting pod and the Thales Areos reconnaissance pod (previously known as Reco-NG) are also part of the F3 upgrade. All previously delivered French Rafales are being upgraded to the F3 standard, including the 10 Navy F1s, for which a contract is imminent, according to Gasparini.

        The F3 standard also introduced improvements to the Rafale’s electronic warfare system called Spectra and designed jointly by MBDA and Thales. These improvements include the ability to cue the aircraft’s Front Sector Optronics (FSO) sensor to potential targets, thereby providing a fully passive means of detection. The full functionality of the Rafale’s Thales RBE2 fire-control radar system was also achieved with F3, including submeter resolution in the synthetic aperture model.

        Gasparini noted that the F3 was originally the “ultimate” version of the Rafale, as far as the French government was concerned. But technology moves on, and France is now funding the development of an “F3-Plus” standard, which will include an active-array version of the RBE2; a new missile warning system from MBDA; further improvements to the FSO; integration of MBDA’s new Meteor air-to-air missile and the GBU-24 Paveway III “smart” bomb; and a new-generation version of the Snecma M88-2 powerplant that will deliver lower life-cycle costs. This new package of improvements is to be available from 2012.

      The Rafale integrates the largest and most modern range of sensors by means of the multisensor data fusion concept that allows the pilot to access global situation awareness and make well-informed tactical decisions. This data fusion process links all sensors via the Modular Data Processing Unit (MDPU) to make the Rafale a truly network centric warfighter.

      This multi-sensor capability draws on the Active Electronic Scanning Antenna RBE2 Radar, Spectra electronic warfare system, Front-Sector Optronics, the Damocles optronic multi function pod, and the AREOS new optronic stand-off recce system, among others.

          Rafale, with its omnirole capabilities, is the right answer to the capability approach. It fully complies with the requirement to carry out, with a reduced number of aircraft, a wide range of missions: quick reaction alert/air-defence/air sovereignty missions, power projection and deployments for external missions, deep strike missions, air support for ground forces, reconnaissance missions, pilot training sorties and nuclear deterrence duties.

Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) RBE2 Radar

 Air Defence

• Very long detection and track ranges
• Fully automatic, sorting and ranking of tracked targets
• Fully target tracks independent of search volume.

Deep low-level penetration

• Automatic terrain following and avoidance

Strike mission

• En Route update of target area situation
• High resolution imagery modes (SAR) - Designations

Sea skimming attacks

• Detection and multi-tracking

  Active electronic scanning makes it possible to switch radar modes quickly, thereby enabling operational functions to run simultaneously.

    AESA has incorporated expertise coming from the current RBE2 Rafale radar, in the tradition of electronic scanning array radar.The RBE2 has been in production since 1997 and was combat proven in multinational operations in 2001.It can be fitted on large or medium fighter aircraft.

     The RBE2 will give the Rafale the capability to track all targets in the radar field of view,irrespective of the relative location between targets and host aircraft. Other operational benefits include the detection of targets with low radar reflectivity and improved high quality ground imaging. The RBE2’s high performance air-to-air detection will make it possible to detect smaller targets and to detect them earlier.

Front-Sector Optronics

      Thales’s Front-Sector Optronics (FSO) system is fully integrated into the Rafale to provide covert long-range detection and identification, high-resolution angular tracking and laser range-finding for air, sea and ground targets. Operating in optical avelengths, this sensor is immune to radar jamming.

       The FSO contributes to air situation awareness and reinforces the Rafale's capabilities to operate in severe environments. Lasers for measuring target distance give the sensor highprecision 3D localisation capabilities. Its near-visible waveband capability is especially valuable with its narrow field for identifying possible targets in situations where visual contact is required by the Rules of Engagement or during quick reaction alerts.


Antenna block

• Active electronic scanning
• Very low side and scattered lobes in azimuth and elevation
• Very high reliability (T/R modules)

Active transmit / Receiver modules and exciter / Receiver

• Multipole Waveforms
• Coherent X band frequency generation
• Excellent spectral purity
• Wide bandwidth
• Full monopulse
• MMIC/GaAs technologies

Programmable signal processor and data processor

• Target detection and ECCM processing
• Fully programmable
• Anti-obsolescence solutions: open architecture - COTS components
• Tracking computation
• High resolution map generation

Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) or Spectra EW

High Power Standoff and Escort Jamming

       Spectra also contributes to passive tactical situation awareness, all-weather long-range detection, identification and location of threats, within a short response time. The system’s cutting-edge defensive measures are based on combinations of omni-directional AESA jamming, multi-band decoying and evasive manoeuvres, as well as on state-of-the-art technologies such as Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) signal processing.

New Airborne Electronic Attack concept for electronic support jamming missions in present and future environments

Increased ES/EA mission capability through advanced jamming functions

* Pod or internally mounted, for fighter aircraft, UAV, J-UCAV or mission aircraft with network centric warfare (NCW) capabilities

* Very high power main / side / scattered lobe jamming
* Unsigned raid DDA, up to RF horizon action possible
* Smart techniques / coherent waveforms / covert jamming
* Smart power management using active phased array transmitter

Outstanding performance with latest jamming technologies

* Solid-state active phased array AESA jamming
* Highly sensitive digital reception
* Highly effective multi-bit DRFM jamming techniques

Main features

* Very high ERP, for main, side and scattered lobes jamming
* Multiple DRFM architecture for simultaneous beam aimed multi-threat jamming
* Smart digital jamming techniques
* Wide angular coverage, up to 360°
* Extended low and high brand threat coverage capabilities

      Carbone Demonstration Aircraft. The new Thales AEA concepts and technologies have been implemented within the CARBONE demonstration programme. CARBONE was presented and evaluated during the MACE X NATO trials, operating against sophisticated eastern/western radar technologies.

       Elisa is designed to draw a radar map of the world, identifying civil and military radars, allowing a designation of weapon systems linked to the radars. Elisa is mainly designed for ground-based radars but could detect radars in movement

   Eventually, data from Elisa on enemy radars would be passed on the Spectra electronic countermeasures suite on the Rafale fighter to allow suppression of enemy air defense missions.

SPECTRA is 360° and use AESA antennas.

        The efficiency of Spectra notably was demonstrated in 2008 at the Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where during all sorties the Rafale escaped SAM missile threats. This followed a successful demonstration at the NATO MACE electronic warfare campaign in Europe.

      The SPECTRA EW system provides a multi-spectral threat warning capability against hostile radars, missiles and lasers.It is fully integrated in the aircraft, giving it excellent survivability against both air and ground threats.

       SPECTRA provides all-weather reliable long-range detection, identification and location of threats, short response times and cutting-edge defensive measures based on combinations of jamming, decoying and evasive manoeuvres and on state-of-the-art technologies such as DRFM (Digital Radio Frequency Memory) signal processing

Note 1

       The SLPRM (Système Local de Préparation et de Restitution de Missions) mission planning and debriefing system, developed for the Rafale omnirole fighter, is a key to efficient mission planning and debriefing. It is used on different combat aircraft deployed by the French air force and navy, and supports all stores configurations. SLPRM integrates the latest Rafale F3 standard, as well as the latest guided air-to-ground weapons, including the ASMP-A nuclear cruise missile, Scalp conventional cruise missile and AASM modular air-to-ground weapon, developed and produced by Sagem, along with the Reco-NG optronics reconnaissance pod.


      The concept behind DDM NG is the ability to detect incoming attacking missiles from any direction and angle of attack with regard to the host aircraft. It will succeed the current DDM system on the Rafale as a “form, fit and function” replacement. DDM NG incorporates a new infrared array detector which enhances performance with regard to the range at which a missile firing will be detected, offers improved rejection of false alarms and gives an angular localisation capability which will be compatible with the future use of Directional Infra Red Counter Measures (DIRCM). With two sensors, each equipped with a fish-eye lens, DDM NG provides a spherical field of view around the aircraft.

        The quality of DDM NG’s detection algorithms and its very low false alarm rate, allows it to be effectively incorporated within an integrated aircraft self-protection system such as SPECTRA (Système de Protection et d’Evitement des Conduites de Tir Rafale) and to automate the sequence of countermeasures. Operating in passive infrared, DDM NG has no electromagnetic compatibility issues with other sensors and can therefore be easily integrated into all aircraft platforms.

Active cancellation

     Active cancellation means preventing a radar from detecting a target by firing back a deception signal with the same frequency as the reflection, but precisely one-half wavelength out of phase with it. Result: the returned energy reaching the radar has no frequency and can't be detected.

In Combat 

      During 2008's  a Rafale destroyed a target in his six while evading the target. The Mica made a 180 degree turn after launch and intercept the target successfully. The target was locked using Link 16 from a second Rafale/wingmate.

Special missions 

         Dassault Aviation is considering a "concept of micro-launcher Airborne (MLA) in a Rafale, capable of putting small satellites into low Earth orbit", one learns from the manufacturer. Since late 2004, Dassault is working under a contract with the National Centre for special studies (CNES).There are actually two projects, as indicated in the latest internal newsletter of Dassault. The smallest is to take on, under the fuselage of the Rafale, a launcher MPV two floors (one solid-propellant, the other liquid). The launcher would put 50 pounds in LEO. The other project is much more ambitious. It would be to use three points emports Rafale (the fuselage and two wings) to hang a single device three bodies connected by "fixed arms." The body side serve as boosters. This device should be able to place satellites 15O pounds in an orbit of 800 km. Dassault had already considered such a system to equip the Mirage IV, but the case has not been implemented.

       During July 2008 Rafale wing is visiting the US and will be deployed for a week on USS Theodore Roosevelt to participate in JTFEX exercise. It will be the first time a foreign wing is deployed on a US Navy CVN


  In July last week 2008 Rafales Deployed in Luke AFB Arizona . on the First day of Exercise 6 F16 down, 2 Rafales down .

    The Last month of 2009 The first reports made this morning by a French Rafale pilot reported a superiority of the French fighter over the RAF Typhoon during confrontations in the UAE. The first confrontation engaging four Typhoon against four Rafale ended with a 4-0 in favor of French jetfighter. Despite the carriage of air-air weapons. With an even more degraded throw weight, the Rafale has yet won, 3-1

     Rafale vs Typhoon: several engagements took place. Of those reported by the website, it’s 7-1 for Rafale, with degraded AA weaponry.

- Rafale vs F-22: Furballs, and in visual range only. Rafale went reportedly only once on the wrong side of F-22’s gunsight.

- Rafales also reportedly performed SEAD missions and were able to detect missile sites that had not been detected by F-16CJs.

- The Rafale famed OSF was able to “silently” detect targets from a distance of 23 NM.

- Finally, another Rafale demonstrated its multirole capabilities by firing 6 Sagem AASM on as many targets and simultaneously firing 3 MICA AA missiles. The website also reports that the backseater that day was an Emirati pilot.

   Of those six games, "the F-22 conducted one shot gun, five other ending with a draw" -a scenario called "mutual neutralization "

March 2010 

     4vs4 encounter between CdG Rafale and F16 B52+   Full Combat Mission Click


From Greece 

   The capabilities of the radar to locate targets, and the ECM and ECCM suites are very impressive, capable of giving a complete view of the operational combat environment without AWACS. It can locate enemy radar signals to their precise location from over 200 miles away. F2 and F3 will have many vast improvements from experience gained from the F1.

From US Navy

In a recent mock exercise with the U.S. Navy, the French jets "dropped" six F-18 and lost only two aircraft. The U.S. pilots said they could only see the Rafale on the radar when it was too late to react. 


First month of 2010, an international confrontation took place in the Emirate which has demonstrated the superiority of our aircraft confronted with RAF Typhoon.

From A Rafale Pilot

  "the rafale is the same level as the Raptor in dogfight. " It is my  professional opinion.

Captain Romain (Rafale Pilot) March 2010

       After a briefing in the morning, the Indian pilot -very experimented, but alone onboard a plane which was new to him- could take off, intercept and identify a fighter with the help of the optronics of Rafale, engage several air-to-air targets at beyond visual range, shoot an AASM salvo -the new GPS guided french bomb- on targets discovered and realigned during the mission, before landing... All in a single hour simulated flight...The two officers could check the realism of the simulator Rafale, using in a real two seater flight what they had learned during less than a daytime

Contents collected from Various Sources and Articles  

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