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.

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