France launches €1 billion Rafale upgrade
Jean-Yves le Drian, Minister for Defence, handed Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, the “F3R” standard development contract for the Rafale combat aircraft. This event took place recently on the occasion of Le Drian’s visit to the Dassault Aviation Mérignac plant. The contract was notified by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) on December 30, 2013.
The F3R standard is an evolution of the Rafale “F3” standard. It is part of the ongoing process to continuously improve the aircraft in line with operational requirements. It will enable Dassault Aviation to integrate the following equipment and weapons onto the Rafale: The European Meteor long-range air-to-air missile produced by MBDA. This high-performance missile will achieve maximum effectiveness thanks to the “active array” radar which equips all production Rafale aircraft delivered since mid-2013 (1). The Thales PDL-NG new-generation laser designator pod. Primarily used for air-to-ground strikes, in daylight or darkness, this pod will further enhance the high degree of precision that the Rafale has achieved since its first engagements (in 2007 in the Afghan theatre). The laser homing version of the Sagem AASM air-to-ground modular weapon (2). This family of weapons, with GPS primary guidance and an additional booster, is unmatched. It was used by the Rafale during operations in Libya (2011) to destroy targets at ranges of several tens of kilometres with metric precision. The laser homing version is particularly adapted to moving targets.
F3 R will also include upgrades to Rafale sensors and to systems ensuring total interoperability.
The launch of the F3R standard: Guarantees that French forces will continue to have a high-performance aircraft adapted to their requirements. Reinforces the strong points of the Rafale in export competitions. Contributes to maintaining the competences of the design bureaux of Dassault Aviation and its industrial partners at a world-class level. Confirms the ongoing improvement process and opens the way to future developments for France and export customers.
Validation of the F3R standard is scheduled for 2018.