Rafale gets next development deal

We’ve written recently about the latest packages of enhancements for the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen, and now it’s the turn of the Dassault Rafale.

Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (pictured below in Rex Features-sourced image) visited Dassault’s Mérignac final assembly site on 10 January, where details of the F3 R-standard deal were announced. Agreed by the manufacturer and France’s DGA defence procurement agency last month, this covers a range of sensor and system upgrades for the “omnirole” type.

Le Drian Rafale

The key aspects are full integration of the laser-guided version of Sagem’s AASM “Hammer” air-to-surface missile (which has already been employed in Mali via an urgent operational requirement project) and MBDA’s Meteor air-to-air missile, plus a new-generation laser designation pod to be developed by Thales, with all of the new bells and whistles to be validated in 2018.

Still hurting after its rejection by Brazil (which last month picked the Gripen NG), Dassault says the F3 R enhancements “open the way for future developments for France and export customers”.

The hugely competitive fighter market delivers knocks to all manufacturers from time to time, but Dassault and its partners must be wondering what they have to do to secure that elusive first international order for the very capable Rafale; a type which has been proven in combat over Afghanistan, Libya and Mali so far. Off the top of my head (let me know if I’ve imagined any of these, or forgotten any others), the manufacturer has now tasted disappointment in Brazil, Morocco, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and also so far with the United Arab Emirates.

On the positive side, the Rafale remains in pole position for India’s 126-aircraft MMRCA requirement. Almost two years on from giving the French bid team so-called L1 vendor status, will 2014 see New Delhi giving it a welcome production boost? Sign that deal and the programme will look a whole lot more healthy.

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13 Responses to Rafale gets next development deal

  1. christian 83 14 January, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    !!! on n’a pas souvent une photo du Rafale sur the Dew Line !!!

  2. silver dart 15 January, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Unfortunately, there is at least another one failed bid : Netherlands (2002), they selected F35.

    This failure to secure at least one export order is something hardly understandable.

  3. Tong 16 January, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    I think it is a stretch to say that the Rafale is dead and burried in the UAE, when actually it is now the front runner since the Eurofighter was rejected!

    • Craig Hoyle 17 January, 2014 at 9:28 am #

      I didn’t say that about the UAE; just that it so far has been disappointed. I don’t believe that Rafale is now the frontrunner there though (I had heard that there had been no talks between the parties for a long while); I think more F-16s will be acquired, and then they’ll wait for F-35.

      • Breguet 19 January, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

        “(I had heard that there had been no talks between the parties for a long while)”

        Discussions have resumed since November of last year.

  4. silver dart 16 January, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    I think you forgot one failed export bid : Netherlands (2002), where F35 was selected with an order confirmed in 2013.

  5. Mazo 18 January, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    India is the make or break contract for Rafale. If they bag India, all the other “losses” will cancel out. Also, if the Indian air force buys it, a lot of other Arab and Asian nations would look to it more favorably than merely an expensive and exotic fighter they’d “like” to have.

  6. P4 18 January, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    The A2SM bomb was already employed over Libya and even before over A-Stan.

    • Craig Hoyle 19 January, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

      I was referring to the laser-guided version having being used in Mali for the first time.

  7. unamused 19 January, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    This blog has gone downhill in the last year. Sad to say it, but I will stop checking it regularly. Posts don’t come frequently enough these days.

    • Craig Hoyle 19 January, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

      Sorry to hear that, unamused, but please do pay us the occasional visit; I file to the blog when I can, but there are many competing demands on my time on Flightglobal and Flight International, as defence editor.

  8. Raaz 22 January, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    Rafale is no doubt a very good plane but how is Afghanistan, Libya and Mali a test of any aircrafts capability? None of these countries present any threat what so ever to any aircraft violating its airspace. Its like practising bombing runs on dummy targets. with a difference bieng that the targets were living human biengs (good or bad).

    • Craig Hoyle 22 January, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      Air forces can only operate where they are asked to do so, but I seem to recall that the Libyan air defence system was considered to be quite a threat to NATO aircraft at the start of that campaign. Rafale showcased impressive long-range capability over Libya and Mali, plus precision strike with the AASM, and not all types or users find such requirements so easy. But in the context of the Brazil contest, how combat-proven is the Gripen?

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