Friday, October 5, 2012

Rafale Multi-role Combat Aircraft / Omnirole

Dassault Rafale Multi Role Combat Aircraft / Omnirole fighter is developed & manufactured by Dassault Aviation with Safran (engines) & Thales (avionics / sensors). Rafale program began in 1985 after French break away from multinational consortium for new European fighter aircraft project later known as Eurofighter. French intended for a lighter aircraft suitable for naval use. French finally opted for expensive but independent choices named Rafale. Rafale is on the process to become fully omnirole and for global export currently. Initial version of Rafale not fully multirole due to lack of capabilities in ground & ship attack.
Main rivals for global fighter export markets is EurofighterTyphoon (EADS), Sukhoi SU-30 family, F-15E & F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet (Boeing), F-16 C/D Block 50 @ F-16E/F Block 60 (Lockheed Martin), JAS-39 E/F Gripen (SAAB), F-35 Lightning II (Lockheed Martin) & MiG-35.

Rafale Variant

Rafale is powered by Safran M-88 twin jet engines that can generating up to 16,500 pound of thrust with afterburner for each engine.Canard was installed to improved maneuverability & to reduce radar detection. This aircraft pre-installed with 30mm GIAT DEFA 719B gun. It has 14 hardpoints that can carry weapons, missiles, tanks, pods etc up to 10 tonnes. For early version Rafale (F1 & F2) Thales RBE-2 mechanically-scanned array radar was installed. The radar can link with MBDA MICA RF missiles & Meteor long-range BVR missiles (on progress). Optronics Infrared Search & Track system (Thales / Sagem OSF) can integrate with MBDA MICA IR medium range Air-Air missile in passive attack.

Rafale production / design divided into several capabilities / series or better known as tranche. Rafale M are single-seat fighter for maritime / naval version. This version was added with strengthened landing gear, re-inforced / improved airframe & hook arrester for ship landing purpose.
For Air Force, twin-seat Rafale B & single-seat Rafale C was designed / produced. All Rafale models (B, C & M) divided into Tranche improvements. Early models of Rafale category as F1. It features mainly for air superiority (air-air) missions. Early model of Rafale, Rafale M included in this category. Latest variant of Rafale M, Rafale B (2-seat) & Rafale C (single-seat) was built in F2 standard. F2 standard has capability to carry Precision Guided Munition plus air superiority capabilities. F2 improvements included radar integrated ground attack & terrain following modes, can carry laser guided bombs (smart bomb), cruise missile, passive guided missile using IRST, link 16 datalink, tanker role etc.

Fully capable F3 standard version will adds precision ground attack, integration with RECO NG reconnaissance pod & Thales Damocles surveillance & targeting pods, RBE2-AA AESA radar, integrated with anti-ship missile (Exocet AM39). It can carry ASMP/A air-launch stand-off nuclear missile. Integration with MBDA Meteor long-range air-ar missile (BVR) still on test/progress.


Rafale multi-role fighter aircraft can operate on widely range of mission:

1. Air defense / air superiority
2. Close air support
3. Ground surface attack (laser guided bombs, stand-off precision weapons/cruise missiles)
4. Anti-ship
5. Nuclear Strike mission
6. Reconnaissance
7. Tanker role capability for buddy refueling


HOTAS system used to control the aircraft. For aircraft control data, mission data & firing cues, the cockpit was equipped with HUD, wide-angle display (Thales Avionique).

Multi-image HUD show tactical situation & sensor data and two touch-screen displays will display aircraft system parameters and mission data.
Pilot will equip with HMS & display. Camera & on-board recorder will record image of HUD during a mission.


Range of weapons for Rafale includes:

Air-Air missiles - MBDA MICA RF/IR, Magic, ASRAAM, AMRAAM, MBDA Meteor long-range missile
Air-Ground missiles - Apache, AS-30, HARM, Maverick, Storm Shadow, SCALP-EG
Guided bombs - GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II, Sagem AASM GPS/INS precision guided bomb (six can
                         carry at one time)
Anti-ship missile - Exocet AM-39, Penguin 3 & Harpoon missiles
Strategic mission (nuclear) - MBDA ASMP-A stand-off nuclear missile (French only)


Thales Spectra was Rafale electronic warfare system. It integrated transmitter, radar warner, laser warning receiver, missile warning, detection system and jammers.

Optronic system is Thales/SAGEM OSF IRST for search, target identification, telemetry and automatic target designation & tracking.


Rafale was picked in India MRCA program outperform Eurofighter Typhoon. Dassault also active in offering Rafale for Brazil FX-fighter program, Kuwait AF, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, UAE and others country.

Rafale lost for export competition in Algeria (SU-30MKA), Greece (F-16 C/D), Morocco (F-16C/D), Netherlands (F-35A), Norway (F-35A), Saudi Arabia (Eurofighter), Singapore (F-15SG), South Korea (F-15K), Switzerland (JAS-39E/F Gripen) & UAE (F-16E/F).

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