Wednesday, November 30, 2011
* Swiss to buy 22 JAS-39 Gripen
* Gripen the cheapest option among bidders
* Critics slammed Gripen for poor performance in tests
* Greens want deal put to referendum (Adds details, reaction)
ZURICH, (Reuters) - Switzerland has chosen to replace its fighter jet fleet with 22 of Swedish defence and aerospace group Saab's JAS-39 Gripen, Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said on Wednesday, dealing a blow to French rivals.
Neutral Switzerland has wrangled for the past three years over how to replace its ageing Northrop F-5E/F Tiger fighters, purchased in 1976 and 1981, with up to 33 new aircraft.
"With the Gripen the cabinet has opted for a fighter jet that fulfils military requirements, but at the same time can be tolerated financially over the medium and long-term by the defence ministry and the army," the government said in a statement.
Saab shares were up 9.3 percent to 118.70 Swedish crowns by 1548 GMT.
The hotly contested Swiss deal was seen as laying down a marker in the European aerospace sector.
Other bidders included the Rafale built by France's Dassault Aviation and EADS's Anglo-German-Italian Eurofighter Typhoon.
The 3.1 billion Swiss francs ($3.41 billion) price tag for the 22 Gripen was considerably less than rival bids, Maurer told a news conference in Berne.
The purchase of new jets is politically contentious in Switzerland and has been plagued by delays and a funding squeeze.
Last year the cabinet said it would push back the purchase of new fighters until 2015, giving ministers time to come up with a financing plan.
In September the Swiss lower house of parliament increased the defence budget to 5 billion francs from 2014 to finance a 100,000-strong army and the purchase of new fighter jets.
The Swiss decision faces opposition from some parliamentarians and within the military. Swiss media reported the Gripen fared worse in evaluation tests than the Rafale and the Eurofighter.
The Green Party, which has long opposed replacing the fighter jets, said on Wednesday it would fight the decision in parliament and call a referendum on the issue.
Dassault has yet to find a foreign buyer for its multi-role Rafale, billed as one of the most effective fighters in the world but also one of the most expensive.
Saab has already sold its jets to Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa. ($1 = 0.9102 Swiss francs)
GENEVA — The Swiss government said on Wednesday it will purchase 22 Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets to replace its ageing F5 fighter fleet in an estimated 3.1 billion Swiss franc (2.5 billion euro) deal.
"The Federal Council has decided to acquire 22 Saab Gripen fighter planes to replace the obsolete F5 Tiger," a statement said.
The planes were selected over the French Dassault Rafale and the EADS Eurofighter, also being considered for the multi-billion Swiss franc contract.
The candidates had been subjected to a robust evaluation lasting several years, the government said, and by opting for the Gripen had chosen a jet which "fulfils military demands" while being financially sustainable.
The planned purchase will be put to parliament as part of the government's 2012 arms programme.
During its last session the Swiss parliament charged the government with launching the acquisition process for new planes by the end of the year.
"This decision allows us to acquire a high performance plane without compromising other military branches or their essential equipment," said the government.
During a press conference in Bern, Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer described the model as "technically excellent" while estimating the cost of the deal at up to 3.1 billion Swiss francs -- said to be the cheapest of the three options.
Saab shares rose in Stockholm after the announcement, gaining 9.6 percent to 119 kronor (13 euros/17.6 dollars).
The choice came as a relative surprise in Switzerland after media reported several days ago that the Swedish plane had not fully passed technical tests. A Paris-based analyst specialising in the air defence industry said the Rafale option was considerably more expensive and had little chance of winning the contract however.
Saab admitted it made "huge concessions over the price to ensure it got the contract", the analyst said, while adding that the deal could still be put to a referendum if there was sufficient opposition.
Saab said Wednesday it was "proud and delighted" over Switzerland's decision.
"Given that Switzerland is known globally for applying (the) highest procurement standards and requesting state-of-the art technologies, Saab is both proud and delighted that Gripen has been chosen as the Swiss Air Force's future multirole fighter aircraft," Saab said in a statement.
The Swiss selection "confirms that Saab is a market-leader in the defence and security industry and that Gripen is a world-class fighter system that provides the best value for money", Saab CEO and president Haakan Buskhe said.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Morocco is set later this week to receive its first new fighter since 1981 with the arrival of four Lockheed Martin F-16s at Ben Guerrir Air Base.
Lockheed confirmed that Morocco's first four F-16 Block 52s, which are powered by Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines, departed the final assembly centre in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Moroccan Air Force will receive 20 more F-16s to become the 25th operator of the fighter jet worldwide. Lockheed won the contract in 2008 after the Moroccan government broke off advanced negotiations with France for the Dassault Rafale.
The complete deal for fighters, weapons and other systems was valued by the US government at more than $2.5 billion. That includes 24 F-16s, engines and Northrop Grumman APG-68(V)9 radars. Weapons also wrapped into the deal include the Raytheon AIM-120C7 AMRAAM, Raytheon AIM-9M Sidewinder, and both laser- and satellite-guided smart bombs.
Russia’s radar station in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad will monitor missile launches from the North Atlantic, as well as the future European missile defense system, the Aerospace Defense Forces chief said on Friday.
“We will be able to control the entire European continent and the Atlantic, including the European missile defense system,” Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said.
The radar station is ready to go into operation as part of the national missile early warning attack system, he said.
In addition, Iskander tactical missiles will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region “in the near future,” the general said.
Russia’s air defense system will have the capability to intercept any type of missiles, any targets at any speed, including hypersonic ones, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Tuesday.
The new system, comprising air defense, missile defense, missile early warning attack and space control systems, should be up and running by December 1.
Ostapenko’s remarks come after President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that Russia would move "advanced offensive weapon systems" to its European borders in response to a planned U.S.-backed NATO missile shield if talks on the project fail.
Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it. Washington, however, has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.
Washington responded by saying it would not alter its plans for a European missile defense project, despite increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow.
Russia may deploy "advanced offensive weapon systems" on its borders with Europe in response to a planned U.S.-backed European missile shield, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.
Medvedev's comment came as he outlined a series of possible “appropriate measures” if missile defense talks between Moscow and Washington result in failure. Moscow is seeking written, legal guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it, but Washington has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.
In a live broadcast on national television, Medvedev said the U.S. and NATO had failed to "take our concerns about the European missile defense into account."
If there was no progress on the issue, he went on, Russia would “deploy in the west and the south of the country advanced offensive weapon systems which will target the European component of the missile defense network.”
Medvedev was speaking ahead of a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels on December 7-8.
Other military measures outlined by Medvedev included the placement of an early-warning radar in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and the increased protection of nuclear deterrent assets around the country.
The U.S and NATO plan to place elements of the European missile shield in Poland and Romania. The Alliance has dismissed Russia’s concerns over the shield, saying it needs it to deal with “rogue states” such as Iran.
Russia and NATO tentatively agreed to cooperate on the European missile defense network at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, but differences in approaches toward the project led to a deadlock in negotiations.
Medvedev reiterated on Wednesday Russia’s proposal to create a joint missile defense system. He also said, however, that Russia would not participate in a project that went against its interests.
"We will not agree to take part in a project that may weaken our deterrent potential in a relatively short time - five or six or eight years. And the European missile defense is exactly this kind of project," said Medvedev, who steps down next spring to allow his mentor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to return to the Kremlin.
Russia made similar threats when the George Bush-era missile shield was announced and there was immediate speculation in at home and abroad that Medvedev's tough statements were made to satisfy rising nationalist sentiments ahead of the December 4 parliamentary polls.
ARMS CONTROL AT RISK
Medvedev also said that if talks on the European missile shield develop in a manner unfavorable to Russia, Moscow may halt its disarmament and arms control efforts, including participation in the new strategic arms reduction treaty with the United States.
“Given the direct link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons, reasons could emerge for Russia's withdrawal from the START treaty. This is stipulated by the treaty itself,” he said.
The missile shield dispute between Russia and the United States has undermined efforts to build on improvements in relations between the former Cold War foes and is intensified by Russia's uncertainty over U.S. policy after the November 2012 presidential elections.
At the same time, Medvedev expressed hope that there was still a chance of reaching an agreement with the United States and NATO on missile defense.
“If our partners approach the task of heeding our legitimate security interests in an honest and responsible way, I am sure we will manage to come to terms,” the president said.
He added, though, that Russia would closely monitor the situation and react accordingly to each new phase in the implementation of the European missile shield project.
All decks have been cleared for two crucial defence deals, together worth over Rs 5,000 crore, to acquire 75 Swiss turbo-prop aircraft to train rookie pilots as well as around 450 advanced French missiles to arm upgraded Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters.
Defence ministry sources say the two deals have now been "sent" to the Cabinet Committee on Security for the "final nod" after "clarifying all objections" of finance ministry. "The contracts will be inked after the CCS clears within a week or so," said a source.
This comes at a time when MoD and IAF are busy calculating the "lowest bidder" between French Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon for the mega medium multi-role combat aircraft
project to acquire 126 fighters at a cost likely to touch $20 billion. But while these fighter deliveries will begin from 2015 , IAF wants to induct trainers earlier to train new pilots. The hurry to acquire 75 Swiss Pilatus PC-7 basic trainers is critical since IAF's 114 piston-engined HPT-32 jets have been grounded since August 2009 due to repeated engine failures.
"We want to begin our first course on the Pilatus trainers from July 2013," said a senior officer. IAF, of course, is already inducting 123 British Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers), at a cost of around Rs 16,000 crore, but they are meant for "advanced'' combat training. The contract for the around 450 fire-and-forget, all-weather MICA (interception and aerial combat missiles) systems with French company MBDA, too, has been in the pipeline for quite some time.
It flows from the Rs 10,947 crore programme finalized in July for an upgrade of 51
Mirage-2000s with the help of French companies Dassault Aviation (aircraft manufacturer)
and Thales (weapons systems integrator).
While the first two fighters are being sent to France next month for the upgrade, the remaining 49 will later be "souped up" with new avionics, radars, mission computers, glass cockpits, helmet-mounted displays, electronic warfare suites, weapon delivery and precision-targeting systems by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in India. The overall upgrade project cost will go beyond Rs 15,000 crore over the decade it will take to be completed. Down to just 33-34 fighter squadrons (each has 16 to 18 jets) from a 'sanctioned strength' of 39.5
The 63 MiG-29s are to be upgraded under a $964 million deal inked with Russia in March
2008. Then, apart from the 126 MMRCA, IAF is also inducting 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted
from Russia for around $12 billion. Moreover, the first lot of the around 120 indigenous
Tejas Light Combat Aircraft will join IAF from end-2013 onwards. On top of this all, India plans to induct 250-300 stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft co-developed with Russia from 2020 onwards, in what will be its biggest-ever defence project at around $35 billion.
Contracts have been signed with Russia, France and Ukraine for upgradation of the flying fleet of Indian Air Force, Defence Minister A K Antony informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
"Contracts have been signed with RAC MiG Russia for upgradation of MiG-29 aircraft, with Spets Techno Export from Ukraine for upgradation of An-32 aircraft and with Thales, France along with with HAL for upgrade of the Mirage-2000 aircraft," he said in a written reply.
He said mid-life upgradation of the fleet is a continuous process and is undertaken to retain the combat relevance of the aircraft.
Antony said the capability building of IAF to meet emerging security challenges is taken as per the Long Term Plan of the force.
"The Capability building involves both upgradation of existing systems and platforms as well as induction of state of the art modern equipment," he said.
On procurement of amphibious assault vessels, he said, "A contract has been concluded with GRSE, Kolkata in September for construction of eight Land Craft Utility ships, which are likely to be inducted in the Indian Navy during 2013-15."
On purchase of Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs), Antony said, "There is a proposal for procurement of 187 Light Utility Helicopters under design and development project undertaken by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)."
He said the project was sanctioned by the Government in February 2009 and was proceeding as per approved time lines.
To a question on development of Kaveri engine for advanced version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), also known as Tejas Mk-II, Antony said, "DRDO is negotiating with French firm SNECMA for co-development and co-production of Kaveri Aero Engine for the LCA, Tejas Mk-II.
ABU DHABI: Eurofighter and Rafale, the two finalists in the fray for India's big combat jet order, have extended their dogfight to the UAE to win another commercial tender.
So far, only the French Dassualt's Rafale appeared to be in the bidding for an order for 60 aircraft for the UAE Air Force but a spokesman for EADS Cassidian, the four-nation consortium which makes the aircraft, confirmed that the company had received a formal Request for Proposal (RfP) a few weeks back and that "we are working hard to deliver a response".
Who else has been invited is not known but sources in Lockheed Martin told India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) that the company was in discussions here "to supply additional aircraft." It is not clear if these "additional" cover a few more, or are the replacement for 60 Mirages that the UAE wants to phase out.
Boeing has also made presentations to the UAE on its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-15E Strike Eagle, but again, there are no firm indications on whether the RfP has been sent to Boeing also.
Notably, Rafale had completed all the mandatory flight tests and discussions were on only to fix the price. But on Nov 16, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, said at the Dubai Airshow that Dassault's proposal was "uncompetitive and unworkable".
The French company declined comment.
A Eurofighter spokesman, though, confirmed that Britain, one of the partners in the project, had made a presentation to the UAE Air Force on October 17 and after that, the RfP was issued to EADS Cassidian, the four-nation consortium that includes Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain.
It may be recalled that the UAE had purchased 80 F-16 Desert Falcons from Lockheed Martin configured with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) and other combat radars in 2000. All of them, designated Block 60 due to specific and exclusive UAE requirements and which cost nearly 25 to 30 percent more than the US Air Force'sown F 16s, were delivered beginning 2004 for about $8.5 billion.
The UAE had also ordered the Mirage 2000, again configured to its specific requirements and designated Mirage 2000-9, from Dassault in 1998. An older lot was also converted to the new Dash-9 standards with new avionics, combat radars and laser pods. Overall, there are around 60 Mirage aircraft, equipped with MBDA's Black Shaheen subsonic cruise missiles and advanced weapons. Dassault is supposed to buy these back under its RfP terms, and do whatever -- keep them or sell them.
Sources here told this writer that informal discussions on selling the Mirage 2000-9s have been held "at the diplomatic level with India" but that there has been no interest from New Delhi. Details were not given.
The UAE's F-16 Block 60 is the most advanced F-16 version and Lockheed Martin brought these to India for flight demonstrations for the Indian Air Force's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition.
Of the six aircraft origianlly in the fray, the IAF has shortlisted only the Eurofighter and Rafale, and a decision on the choice is likely to be announced by the defence ministry, which is now considering the financial demands for the deal from the two companies.
What happens in the UAE should have no bearing on the Indian MMRCA competition as IAF has already selected only Rafale and Eurofighter, disqualifying four others on the basis of number of points scored in flight and weapon tests. The former IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, who had announced the decision on shortlisting, observed though that "all the competing aircraft (the US F-16 and F-18, the Swedish Gripen and the Russian Mig 35) were good".
The UAE's decision to seek new bids, however, has two implications: That its own selection process has to start afresh, and that the winner in the Indian competition will have to fine-tune its offer in the final negotiations but after the selection.
The Russian Air Force will take delivery of about 90 new or modernized fixed and rotary wing aircraft in 2012, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
The Air Force will receive up to 10 Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers, about 10 Su-25SM Frogfoot attack fighters, and an unspecified number of Su-35S Flanker-E multirole fighters, Col. Vladimir Drik said.
The Su-35S is Russia’s advanced “Generation 4++” fighter.
New acquisitions will also include over 20 attack helicopters, such as the Mi-28N Night Hunter and the Ka-52 Alligator, as well as “highly modernized” Mi-35 Hind helicopters.
The Air Force will also receive about 30 Mi-8 transport and five Mi-26T heavy lift helicopters.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Whilst we had all the ingredients and a fantastic opportunity for some great photos and video, it would not have been possible without the approval from Dubai and Abu Dhabi air traffic control, the UAE authorities and the UK government. Even when both aircraft were airborne, there was still uncertainty as to whether the aircraft had clearance in the air space entering Abu Dhabi. This was quickly resolved thanks to the good relationships the pilots of both the Spartan and the RAF crew have with air traffic control.
The flight passed along the coast of Dubai, over the Atlantic Palm, the World islands and then on to Abu Dhabi where both aircraft circled over the bold red of Ferrari world, the Emirates Palace and the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. With some incredible images and video footage captured, the aircraft made the return trip to Dubai International airport, passing alongside the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa which measures 2,723ft. or 828m. The aircraft flew as fast as 180-210 knots and their heights varied from 2000ft to 5000ft.
The RAF Typhoon, piloted by Squadron Leader Bolton was “directed” throughout the flight by photographer Tokunaga whose expert eye saw him reposition the aircraft with simple hand gestures to achieve the best possible shots. The results were stunning.
See for yourself how the flight unfolded with a video documenting the trip. Attached are some images from the flight but go online now to visit our image gallery to download the images taken. The video can also be found in our video library: www.eurofighter.com/media/video-library.html
Just a few days after participating in a complex exercise in Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi and with aircraft still in Malaysia for exercise BERSAMA LIMA 11, two Typhoon jets will appear at the 2011 Dubai Air Show 2011. At the event, where a Typhoon will be flying daily in the air display, Eurofighter will have a large pavilion to exhibit the latest technologies developed for the worlds most advanced multi-role combat aircraft.
The presence of the two jets at the most important air show in the region will be further proof of the excellent deployment capabilities of the Typhoon,already proven during Libyan operations when jets from the Royal Air Force and Italian Air Force redeployed to Southern Italy air bases to operate in supportof United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
The deployment in Libya has clearly defined the key functions of the aircraft, ranging from the vital task of air superiority, with the capability to engage multiple targets at long, medium or short range using AMRAAM, IRIS-Tor ASRAAM missiles, to the newly established surface attack role, striking atlong range with precision weapons. In addition, Typhoon delivered close airsupport to ground forces including the supply of intelligence, a show offorce and weapon attack.
Participation in the Libyan operations marked the combat debut of the Typhoon and the first time it has been used as a swing-role platform. Typhoon covered two vital roles over Libya that were previously discharged by two separate platforms.
The fact that the airframe is largely constructed of carbon fibre composites and light alloys to save weight meaning it consumes less fuel and can carry more weapons was never more vital than on the five hour plus missions along the Libyan coastline and after six months of operations, Dubai Air Show 2011 is a perfect showcase for the Typhoon.
At the show, Eurofighter will display a selection of the range of capabilities for the Typhoon, including:
- The Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar which thanks to the large aircraft nose, allows for an optimised array with the addition ofan innovative re-positioner to broaden the field of regard to more than 200 degrees, some 50% wider than traditional fixed plate AESA radar systems.
- The most advanced Helmet Mounted Symbology System (HMSS) which forms a key component of the Eurofighter Typhoon weapon system, improving tactical performance for Eurofighter pilots by providing essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery.
- The Meteor missile - considered the "game changer" in terms of kill probability thanks to its dynamic performances, speed and range.
- The Marte anti-ship missile.
- The Thrust Vectoring Nozzle (TVN) for the Eurojet EJ200 engines.
These technological developments on the Typhoon open the door to industrial collaborations between local industries and the Eurofighters partner companies keen to develop the partnership with aerospace and high-tech companies in the growing technology and industrial base of the Gulf region.
Already in service with the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), the Typhoon is considered the perfect "desert eagle". The aircraft already demonstrates its full capabilities in the arid, hot and humid climate of the Gulf region. Thanks to its exceptional thrust-to-weight ratio, the Typhoon suffers less than other fighters in the difficult environmental conditions and is able to exploit at full its payload capability and range performances.
Totally interoperable with current and future Gulf and allied air forces assets, the Typhoon is the perfect coalition fighter to offer deterrence to the Gulf States today and in the future.
The first international Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has rolled out of the factory. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence will use the short takeoff/vertical landing (jet, known as BK-1, for training and operational tests.
Moscow — Today the first flight of the 3-rd prototype of the fifth generation aviation complex (PAK FA) took place in Sukhoi’s KnAAPO aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The plane was piloted by distinguished test pilot of the Russian Federation, the Hero of Russia Sergey Bogdan. The aircraft spent in the air a little more than an hour and landed on the factory airfield runway. The flight was successful, in full accordance with the flight plan. Stability of the aircraft test was conducted during the flight as well as evaluation of the power plant systems’ performance. The aircraft proved itself well in all phases of the planned flight program. The pilot confirmed reliable operation of all systems and components.
The first flight of the PAK FA was held on January 29, 2010 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. In early March 2011 the second flight model took off there. At present, work is underway on the full range of ground and flight tests. The first public demonstration of the fighter was held on August 17 this year at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2011 in Zhukovsky near Moscow. At the present time more than 100 flights have been made on the flight test program.
The PAK-FA program provides for the creation, production organization and adoption by the Russian army of the 5th generation fighter. This will enhance the combat capabilities of the Russian Air Force, will help the aviation and related industries to attain new industrial and technological level, adding new impetus to the development of scientific schools, providing a stable workload for defense industry enterprises involved in its development and production. This top priority program for the Sukhoi Company will contribute to the development and implementation of materials, element base and high technologies of high innovative potential for the aviation industry and the economy of the country as well as for development of other projects of unified aviation complexes of new generations.
Compared with previous generations of fighters, the PAK FA has several unique features, combining the functions of an attack aircraft and fighter. The aircraft is equipped with a fifth-generation avionics with integrated function of “Electronic pilot” and next-generation radar with a phased antenna array. This equipment reduces the pilot’s workload and helps him concentrate on tactical objectives. The on-board equipment of the new aircraft allows the exchange of data in real time with ground control systems and other aircraft. The PAK-FA is made of composite materials with innovative technologies. Its aerodynamic design and measures to reduce the engine’s visibility provide very low level of radar, optical and infrared visibility while significantly improving combat effectiveness on air and ground targets, at any time, in both visible and adverse weather conditions.
Friday, November 18, 2011
India is developing an umanned aerial vehicle (UAV) similar to American Predator drones with an investment of Rs 1,500 crore and planning an unmanned combat vehicles, a key official involved in the project said today.
UAV Rustom-2 project is spread over 66 months, Director of Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a Defence Research and Development Organisation ( DRDO) laboratory, P S Krishnan, told PTI here.
Rustom-2 would have a wing-span of 21-odd metres and an endurance of 24-hours-plus, as against seven-odd metres and 12-15 hours of Rustom-1, which has already completed five flights. ADE is the nodal lab for these projects.
Rustom-2 would have new payloads such as synthetic aperture radar, maritime patrol radar and collision avoidance system, among others, he said.
"With its capability and the amount of payload it can carry, it (Rustom-2) compares well with (American) Predator (drones) and other class of vehicles," Krishnan said.
The Predator is a nickname given to one in a series of UAVs, or pilotless drones, operated by the Pentagon, the CIA and, increasingly, other agencies of the US federal government such as the border patrol.
Asked if India is also developing unmanned aerial combat vehicles, he said "we are thinking of that one. Some plans will be there".
Meanwhile, Rustom-1, the Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (MALE - UAV), would be integrated with payloads by next month, Krishnan said.
"We have demonstrated all the flying characteristics of the Rustom more or less in the final form".
Krishnan said the Indian Army is keenly watching the developments of Rustom-1, which has the potential military missions like reconnaissance and surveillance, target acquisition, target designation, communications relay, battle damage assessment and signal intelligence.
India has also started working on solar-power UAVs but is still at the R&D stage.
DRDO's Chief Controller (Aero), A Subhananda Rao, said this solar-powered UAV would have an endurance of "almost one week".
"Solar power will have to be harnessed and energy converters of higher efficiency will have to be designed," Rao told reporters.
"Lot of technological challenges are there. But definitely we will be getting into that. We are making a case for project sanction", he added.
European rivals sit at long table as offers are read out.
New Delhi: The only military wing headquartered outside South Block in the capital’s Raisina Hill is the Indian Air Force. A squat multi-storeyed block, the Vayu Sena Bhavan is marked out by a scrapped fighter aircraft mounted on a pillar, its nose skywards as if it were soaring.
Visitors are allowed in only on invitation and after they are frisked, the irises of their eyes checked biometrically to confirm their identities.
Foreigners are rarely allowed into the building and even civilians must have their backgrounds investigated for permission to enter.
Last week, half-a-dozen Europeans were let into the building after going through security and escorted to the fifth floor where they were sat down at the end of a long table in a conference room adjacent to Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne’s office.
The Europeans were from two firms, EADS Cassidian and France’s Dassault Aviation. In one of the world’s largest defence contracts that is hotly contested, Cassidian’s Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault’s Rafale fighter jets have been shortlisted.
When their executives were invited last week, it was for the opening of the financial bids. The meeting was convened by joint secretary (air) R.K. Ghosh, the “acquisitions manager” for the IAF’s medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) programme, the exercise to procure 126 fighter jets, an order that may be expanded to 200.
For both EADS and Dassault — as it would be for any other firm — European giants struggling to keep their assembly lines (and thousands of jobs) intact — the IAF order will mean a guarantee for years.
For India and its air force, the MMRCA is the single largest defence contract it would sign. When the Request for Proposals (RFP) was sent out in 2007, the value of the contract was estimated to be Rs 42,000 crore or $10 billion.
The order could now well go up to $20 billion, or double the estimate, accounting for cost and forex fluctuations. The spotlight on A.K. Antony’s defence establishment in going through with the acquisition, therefore, is so much sharper.
Not only have Indian defence acquisitions been plagued by allegations of bribery and unaccounted commissions (or kickbacks), the last time a Congress government signed a comparable deal (for 410 Bofors howitzers in 1987), it cost Rajiv Gandhi his prime ministership.
Minutes after the Europeans were sat down at the end of the conference table, the acquisitions manager asked for a metal box containing the financial bids to be brought in. They were asked to confirm that the box was locked. They did. The box was then opened. It contained bundles of papers that the competitors had submitted, each trying to outdo the other to emerge as L1 – the lowest bidder.
The seals on the envelopes were broken after they confirmed that their bids were genuine.
“It was like nothing I had seen in India before,” one of the men present in the room told The Telegraph. He had attended bid-openings before.
“They were always like casual and regulation stuff. But here there were people seated around the long table, each was asked to identify himself, and there were placards with our names on the table and we had designated seats and everything was on the record,” he recalled.
The Typhoon and the Rafale, both twin-engine fighter jets – seen in action over Libya most recently -- that claim to be in the four-plus generation of aircraft, were shortlisted after 643-point technical and flight evaluation tests by the IAF through 2009 and 2010.
The aircraft were tested over the desert in Rajasthan, at Hindustan Aeronautics’ Bangalore establishment and at the high-altitude airfield in Leh, Ladakh. Then IAF test pilots flew the aircraft in their countries of origin to test their weapons’ capabilities in air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.
The tests eliminated the F-16 Super Viper IN and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, made by US firms Lockheed Martin and Boeing; the Gripen NG made by Swedish firm Saab and the Russian MiG-35.
In so doing, India was risking a growing defence relationship with the US. After months during which US envoys to India said there was “an expectation” of the contract being awarded to US firms as a thanksgiving for the civilian-nuclear deal, the Pentagon and the US government were bitterly disappointed.
A day before the bids were opened in that fifth-floor conference room in New Delhi, the Pentagon presented a report to the US Congress, expressing its regret over losing the deal yet again and also offering to “share information” with India on its F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter programme, an aircraft that is a generation ahead of the competitors for the MMRCA programme.
For the IAF, not only was that proposal “too late”, it was also seen as an effort to queer the pitch when it was two-thirds of the way through the acquisition process.
“It was the Pentagon talking to the US Congress. It wasn’t Vayu Sena Bhavan talking to South Block,” said one officer, underlining that the Pentagon’s offer had little relevance to the MMRCA programme at this stage.
The F-35 certainly did not figure around that long table where 13 officials from the defence ministry, the IAF, Hindustan Aeronautics and the Defence Research and Development Organisation who make up the contract negotiation committee for the MMRCA programme briefed the Europeans on the process to be followed.
The acquisitions manager read out in broad terms the financial terms offered by the two sides. As the executives took notes furiously, it dawned that the formulae for pricing the aircraft presented by each was so complicated that it would take weeks to determine the values.
“There is no such thing as a sticker price,” said one officer. “You don’t buy aircraft like oranges, by the kilo.”
He explained why it could take up to six weeks – may be till the end of December -- to determine the lowest bidder. “It’s a price for the whole package,” he said.
For the first 10 to 12 days, Air Headquarters expects there will be much back-and-forth between the IAF and the companies as clarifications are sought. The meeting determined that the financial bids would be tied to the price of the dollar quoted by State Bank of India’s Parliament Street branch on November 4.
The IAF has sought financial quotes in eight categories, called M1 to M8. M1 is the “unit flyaway cost”, the price of each of the first 18 aircraft to be purchased “off the shelf”.
M2 asks for the lifecycle costs – the price of running the equipment over their lifespan of 6,000 hours – of the different components that make up the aircraft (engines, airframe, weapons pods).
M3 is “operational cost”. M4 asks for the lifecycle costs of spares, fuel usage, a “mean time between failures” (MTBF), and lubricants.
M5 and M6 are the estimated costs of overhaul and mid-life upgrade. M7 is the cost of the technology that the maker will transfer to Hindustan Aeronautics that will set up the assembly line were the Typhoon or the Rafale would be made under licence. M8 is the computation of total costs.
The formula for computing the costs has an escalation cost, net present value and discounted cash flow built into it, a financial expert said.
Air force officers, however, worry that formulae have a way of getting disrupted in the acquisition process because they get complicated by the pressures of diplomacy and/or under-the-table processes. On the other hand, they also say that if India were to award such a huge deal to a country or a collection of countries, it would be foolish to not extract diplomatic and political mileage out of the deal. Compounding all of this is the IAF’s dire necessity for the aircraft as it stretches its assets – such as the outdated MiG 21 that make up a bulk of its inventory -- well beyond their prescribed lifespan.
Eurofighter’s chief executive officer Bernhardt Gerwert is on record as having said that the four countries that make up the EADS consortium – Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy – had “offered to make India a partner country” with an assurance of steady equation with the four top west European countries.
France’s President, Nicolas Sarkozy, pushing Dassault’s bid with the Rafale, has extended repeated invitations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – who was in Paris for the G20 last week -- and had hosted India as the chief guest at the Bastille Day celebrations, a signal moment for the Indian armed forces when they marched down the Champs-Elysees at the head of the parade.
France is also banking on traditional relations – it supplied the frontline Mirage 2000 aircraft – with the IAF.
In Vayu Sena Bhavan where the airforce wants to insulate itself from the politics of handing out an estimated $20 billion, the search for that precise formula is still on.
Raytheon, the Massachusetts-headquartered Defence and security systems supplier, feels that a number of its missiles can be fitted on the aircraft that the Indian Air Force plans to buy as part of its modernisation programme.
“Just last week we got an RFI (Request for Interest – the first stage of the bidding process) from the IAF for a HEAT (High Speed Expendable Aerial Target) missile,” said Mr Jeff White, Senior Programme Manager – Air Warfare Systems Business Development, Raytheon Missile Systems.
Submits Request for Interest
“Last night, I sent a letter of interest,” he told a group of Indian journalists on a visit to some of Raytheon’s facilities in the US at the invitation of the company, at Tucson on Thursday.
The RFI had asked for the price for a single unit as well as for multiples of 100, Mr White, a former US Marine Corps pilot, said. “We are pretty excited about the RFI,” he added.
He and other Raytheon executives who interacted with the journalists over the last four days reiterated that the US company was interested in a long-term relationship with India, both for supplying missiles and for tying up with Indian companies that would manufacture either the systems or components for the missiles.
Raytheon was in talks with a number of Indian companies, they said, but declined to name them. Over time, Raytheon was open to the idea of transferring technology to the Indian companies and to manufacturing in India, as a means to cut costs.
The Indian Air Force is evaluating the options for its MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) programme. Raytheon feels that its missiles such as JSOW (Joint Standoff Weapon), Maverick, AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) and AIM-9X are capable of being integrated with any type of aircraft that the IAF may select for the programme. The Eurofighter and Rafale are the two in the race for the $10 billion MMRCA to supply about 125 aircraft.
According to Raytheon officials, the IAF has also issued two RFIs for Intelligence Surveillance Targeting and Reconnaissance radars. Raytheon officials have met IAF officials several times and discussed what the company could offer.
India is close to purchase two additional Russian-Israeli airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, the Times of India newspaper reported.
India ordered three A-50EI variants, developed on the basis of the Russian Il-76MD military transport plane and fitted with the Israeli-made Phalcon radar system, in 2004. They are already in service with the Indian air force (IAF).
The Times of India cited on Tuesday defense ministry sources as saying that an $800-mln draft contract “is now…in the final stages of being examined” before being signed as a follow-on order to the previous $1.1-bln contract.
According to the paper, India needs to strengthen its early-warning radar capability as the neighboring rival Pakistan has purchased at least four Swedish Saab-2000 AEW aircraft and is about to receive four Chinese ZDK-03 AWACS planes.
“The Phalcons significantly boost the effectiveness of both offensive and defensive operations. Their enhanced detection and interception capability, connected to fighters and surface-to-air missile systems, are tremendous force-multipliers,” the Times of India quoted an Indian military official.
In many aspects, the A-50 is comparable to the E-3 Sentry of the U.S. Air Force. It is fitted with an aerial refueling system and electronic warfare equipment, and can detect targets up to 400 km (250 miles) away.
India is also planning to integrate domestically developed AWACS systems into three Brazilian-made Embraer-145 aircraft to be later commissioned with the Indian Air Force. However, the completion of the project has been pushed back to 2014.
NEW DELHI: India will order another two advanced Israeli Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems), or the "formidable eyes in the sky'' capable of detecting hostile aircraft, cruise missiles and other incoming aerial threat far before ground-based radars at a cost of over $800 million soon.
Top defence ministry sources say the "draft contract'' for the two new AWACS "is now finally in the final stages of being examined'' before it's inked as a follow-on order to the $1.1-billion tripartite agreement among India, Israel and Russia in 2004, under which IAF inducted three Phalcon AWACS in 2009-10. The purchase comes at a time when Pakistan is fast snapping at India's heels in this complex military arena, having first inducted four Swedish Saab-2000s and on the verge of getting four Chinese ZDK-03 AWACS.
India's tryst with AWACS has been beset with several problems. First, delivery of the first three AWACS , which have the Israeli 360-degree Phalcon early-warning radar and communication suite mounted on Russian IL-76 heavy-lift military aircraft, was delayed by over two years. Then, there were major teething problems in them getting fully operational, with the Phalcons even being grounded at Agra for some time.
But the IAF is all gung-ho about them, claiming they are "true game-changers'' in modern air warfare, which is more about BVR (beyond visual range) combat rather than face-to-face dogfights of yore. "The Phalcons significantly boost the effectiveness of both offensive and defensive operations. Their enhanced detection and interception capability, connected to fighters and surface-to-air missile systems, are tremendous force-multipliers," said an officer.
Apart from detection of incoming cruise missiles and aircraft from over 400-km away in all-weather conditions, and direction of air defence fighters during combat operations, the Phalcons while flying well within Indian airspace can also monitor troop build-ups or activity at airbases and missile silos deep inside Pakistan.
Indigenous efforts to develop mini-AWACS in a Rs 1,800-crore project approved in 2004, under which AEW&C (airborne early warning and control) systems developed by DRDO are being mounted on three Embraer-145 jets obtained from Brazil for $210 million, have, however, been hit by several delays.
As earlier reported by TOI, their project completion date has been pushed back to April, 2014. These indigenous airborne surveillance platforms will have a normal radar range of 250-km and a 375-km extended one, with a 240-degree coverage and five-hour endurance time.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
National origin France
Manufacturer Dassault Aviation
First flight 4 July 1986
Introduction 4 December 2000
Status In production, in service - Primary users French Air Force, French Navy
Program cost €39.6 billion (1 January 2008)Unit cost
Rafale C: €64 million, US$82.3 million (flyaway cost, 2008)
Rafale M: €70 million, US$90.5 million (flyaway cost, 2008)
Unit cost: €163 million US$227.8 million 2010)
The Dassault Rafale (French pronunciation: squall) is a French twin-engine delta-wing multi-role jet fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Introduced in 2000, the Rafale is being produced both for land-based use with the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations with the French Navy. It has also been marketed for export to several countries but has not yet received orders.
In the late 1970s, the Air Force and Navy were seeking replacements for its aircraft. To save development costs, France agreed with four other nations to produce an air dominance fighter, but subsequent disagreements led to a split. To satisfy stringent criteria formulated by the Ministry of Defense, Dassault built a technology demonstrator to prove the viability of its new product. Further development led to the current Rafale variants, which embody innovative avionics and aerodynamics, optimised for air supremacy operations.
1.2 Technology demonstrator
1.4 Procurement and production
2.2 Sensors and avionics
2.4 Radar signature reduction features
3 Operational history
3.2 Potential customers
8 See also
10 External links
Logo with black stylised word "Rafale" against white background
The logo of the Dassault Rafale programme
In the mid-1970s, both the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) and Navy (Marine nationale) had requirements for a new generation of fighters to replace those in or about to enter service.Because their requirements were similar, and to reduce cost, both departments issued a common request for proposal. Meanwhile, Italy, Spain, West Germany, France and the United Kingdom agreed to jointly develop a new fighter, although the latter three had their own aircraft developments.A number of factors led to the eventual split between France and the four countries. It wanted Dassault to lead the grouping; moreover, France demanded a swing-role fighter that was lighter than a design desired by the other four nations. For these reasons, France and the other nations split in 1985, after which France committed to its own design.These nations would develop what would later be named the Eurofighter Typhoon.
The Dassault Rafale A technology demonstrator in 2006
Back in France, the government proceed with its own programme. The French Ministry of Defense required an aircraft capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground, all-day and adverse weather operations. It would perform roles previously filled by an assortment of dedicated platforms, including the Jaguar, F-8P Crusader, Mirage F1C/R/T, Mirage 2000/N, Etendard IVPM and Super Etendard.In June 1982, Dassault announced it was developing a successor to the Mirage 2000.On 13 April 1983, France awarded Dassault a contract for two Avion de Combat eXpérimental (ACX) demonstrators, later revised down to one. The resultant Rafale A technology demonstrator was a large-delta winged fighter, with all-moving foreplanes, embodying fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system.The technology demonstrator was rolled out in December 1985 in Saint-Cloud, before made its maiden flight on 4 July 1986 from Istres.It was initially powered by General Electric F404-GE-400 afterburning turbofans found on the F-18 Hornet, instead of the Snecma M88, to reduce the risk that often come with a first flight, and since the M88 was not considered sufficiently mature for the initial trials programme.It was not until May 1990 when it replaced the port F404 in the demonstrator, thereafter it reached Mach 1.4 and demonstrated supercruise. After 865 sorties, Rafale A was retired in January 1994.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, signalling the end of the Cold War, the French government considerably cut the defense budget. This resulted in the reorganisation of the Air Force, the phasing out of the Mirage 5F and the decision to upgrade 55 Mirage F1Cs to tactical fighter configuration, the Mirage F1CT. Budgets that would otherwise have been spent on the Rafale program were instead diverted elsewhere.
To meet various roles expected to be performed by the new platform, the Air Force required two variants – the single-seat "Rafale C", with C standing for chasseur (fighter), and the "Rafale B" , with B standing for biplace (two-seater). The prototype of the C model (designated C01) completed its first flight on 19 May 1991, signalling the start of a test programme which primarily aims to expand the flight envelope, test the M88-2 engines and, later, man/machine interface and weapons.Due to budget constraints, the second single-single-seat prototype was never built.The C01 differed significantly from the Rafale A. Although superficially identical to the technology demonstrator, it was smaller and more stealthy through the coating the canopy with gold, re-designing the fuselage-fin joint, and the addition of radar-absorbent materials (RAM). This aircraft also saw extensive application of composite and other materials, which both reduce the radar cross-section (RCS) and weight. Moreover, Dassault opted for the absence of variable engine inlets and a dedicated air brake, which lessens maintenance loads and saves weight.
The B01, the only prototype of the two-seat B variant, made its maiden flight on 30 April 1993.It is 350 kilograms (772 lb) heavier than the single-seater, but carries 400 litres (106 US gal) less fuel. The craft was used for weapon-system testing. Later it saw validation roles regarding weapon separation and, specifically, the carriage of heavy-loads. The aircraft normally flies with 2,000-litre (528 USgal) external tanks, two Apache/Scalp cruise missiles, in addition to four air-to-air missiles.
The Navy, meanwhile, sought a carrier-based aircraft to supersede its fleet of ageing Etendard IPVMs, F-8P Crusaders and Super Etendard Modernises. Faced with no funds with which to develop a suitable fighter, the Navy was forced into modernising the Crusaders. Eventually, the requirement was met with the Rafale M, with M standing for Marine. The prototype (M01) first flew on 12 December 1991, followed by the second on 8 November 1993.It features greatly reinforced undercarriage to cope with the phenomenal stress on landing, an arrestor hook, and "jump strut" nosewheel, which only extends as the aircraft takes-off during a catapult launch. It also features a built-in ladder, carrier-based microwave landing system, and the new fin-tip Telemir system which enables its inertial navigation system to communicate with the aircraft carrier.Altogether, the modifications and additions makes it 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) heavier than the other variants.Nevertheless, Rafale M still retains high commonality with the Air Force's variants, although this means inability of its multi-spar wings to be folded (a vital asset with carrier-borne operations). However, this coincided with the then latest nuclear-powered carrier to enter service, the Charles de Gaulle, which was larger than the FS Foch and Clemenceau.
Catapult trials were initially carried out between during July–August 1992 at NAS Lakehurst in New Jersey, and early the following year, as France had no land-based catapult test facility. The aircraft then undertook trials aboard the carrier FS Foch in April 1993. At the controls of Dassault's chief test pilot, Yves Kerhervé, M02 made its maiden flight in November that year, while the first prototype undergoes the third round of testing at Lakehurst in November and December.
Procurement and production
Initially, the Rafale B was to be just a trainer, but the Gulf War and Kosovo War showed that a second crew member is invaluable on strike and reconnaissance missions, and therefore more Rafale Bs were ordered, replacing some Rafale Cs. In 1991, the Air Force switched its preferences towards the two-seater, announcing that 60% of the Rafale fleet would be made up of the variant.The AdA originally envisaged taking delivery of 250 Rafales, but this was revised downwards to 234 aircraft, made up of 95 "A" and 139 "B" models"; this was further reduced to 212 aircraft. The Navy, meanwhile, had 60 Rafales on order, down from 86 due to budget cuts.Of the 60, 25 would be M single-seaters and two-seat 35 Ns.
Production of the first aircraft formally started in December 1992, but was suspended in November 1995 due to political and economic uncertainty. Production only resumed in January 1997 after the Ministry of Defense and Dassault agreed on 48-aircraft (28 firm and 20 options) production run with delivery between 2002 and 2007. It was not until 1999 that a production Rafale M flew.A combined 180 Rafales have been ordered as of 2011.
The marine version has a high priority since it replaces the older F-8E(FN) Crusader.Service deliveries began in 2001 and the type entered service on 4 December 2000, though the first squadron, Flotille 12, did not actually reform until 18 May 2001. The unit embarked on the Charles de Gaulle in 2002, becoming fully operational on 25 June 2004, following an extended operational evaluation that included flying limited escort and tanker missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan.
The Armee de l'Air received its first three Rafale Bs (to F2 standards) in late December 2004. They went to the Centre d'Expériences Aériennes Militaires (CEAM) at Mont-de-Marsan for operational evaluation and associated pilot conversion training.
The total programme cost, as of 2010, is around €40.690 billion, which translates to a unit programme cost of approximately €142.3 million. The unit flyaway price as of 2010 is €101.1 million for the F3+ version.
The Rafale features a delta wing combined with active integrated (close-coupled) canard to maximize maneuverability, while withstanding 9 g or −3 g) and maintaining stability in flight. The canard also reduces landing speed to 115 knots (213 km/h; 132 mph). According to internal sources (Les essais en vol du Rafale) low speed limit is 100 knots (190 km/h; 120 mph) but 80 knots (150 km/h; 92 mph) is sometimes demonstrated during airshows by pilots willing to underline low speed qualities of the aircraft." "A minimum of 15 kt have been reached during simulated combat vs a Mirage 2000 by an aggressive pilot."[verification needed] The aircraft can operate from 400-metre (1,300 ft) runways.
Sensors and avionics
Weapon complement of the Rafale
Built as an air supremacy fighter, the Rafale features an advanced avionics suite designed to provide its pilots with excellent situational awareness. It sports an integrated electronic survival system named "SPECTRA", which embodies a software-based virtual stealth technology. The SPECTRA electronic warfare system protects the aircraft against airborne and ground threats. The real-time data link allows communication with other aircraft and fixed and mobile command and control centres. The Rafale will also eventually use the Damoclès electro-optical/laser designation pod that brings full day and night LGB capability, though the Armée de l'Air's current plans call for Rafale to use stand off weapons, and for the LGB role to be handled by Dassault Mirage 2000s. The most important sensor is the Thales RBE2 passive electronically scanned multi-mode radar. Thales claims to have achieved unprecedented levels of situational awareness through the earlier detection and tracking of multiple air targets for close combat and long-range interception, as well as real time generation of three-dimensional maps for terrain-following and the real time generation of high resolution ground maps for navigation and targeting.
SPECTRA's capabilities were trusted to the extent that French pilots began operations against Libya without the need for SEAD support aircraft or cruise missile bombardment.
In circumstances when signature management is required, the Rafale can use several passive sensor systems. The front-sector electro-optical system or Optronique Secteur Frontal (OSF), developed by Thales, is completely integrated within the aircraft and can operate both in the visible and infrared wavelengths.
The Rafale core systems employ an Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA), called MDPU (Modular Data Processing Unit). This architecture hosts all the core functions of the aircraft as Flight management system, Data Fusion, Fire Control, Man-Machine Interface, etc.[N 1] The total value of the radar, electronic communications and self-protection equipment is about 30% of the cost of the entire aircraft.
The Rafale's ground attack capability is limited by the lack of an advanced targeting pod, but this will be rectified with the addition of Thales Optronique's Reco NG/Areos reconnaissance and Damocles targeting pods on the F-3 standard.
The new Thales RBE2 AA Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar is planned to replace the existing passively scanned array of the RBE2. Thales will begin deliveries of the new radar in August 2010 for use on the fourth tranche of Rafale aircraft. A total of 60 tranche four aircraft have been ordered to date. The first AESA-equipped squadron of aircraft is expected to become operational in 2012. Thales also claims that the AESA radar will improve the operational capabilities of the aircraft in terms of range, interception, tracking ability and countermeasures. Rafale's attempts at export sales have been hindered by a lack of AESA capability, "a baseline requirement for a 21st-century aircraft.”
The cockpit uses a Martin-Baker Mark 16F "zero-zero” ejection seat, i.e., capable of being used at zero speed and zero altitude. The seat is inclined 29° to improve G-force tolerance. The canopy hinges open to the right. An on-board oxygen generating system developed by Air Liquide is provided to eliminate the need for multiple oxygen canisters.
The cockpit includes a wide-angle holographic head-up display (HUD), two head-down flat-panel colour multi-function displays (MFDs) and a center collimated display. Display interaction is by means of touch input for which the pilot wears silk-lined leather gloves. In addition, in full development, the pilot will have a head-mounted display (HMD).
The pilot flies the aircraft with a side-stick controller mounted on his right and a throttle on his left. These incorporate multiple hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls. The Rafale cockpit is also planned to include Direct Voice Input (DVI), allowing for pilot action by voice commands.
Radar signature reduction features
Although not a true stealth aircraft, the Rafale, according to Dassault, has a reduced radar cross-section. While most of the stealth design features remain classified, extensive use of composite materials and serrated patterns on the trailing edges of the wings and canards help to reduce the radar cross-section.
Initial deliveries of the Rafale M were to the F1 ("France 1") standard. This meant that the aircraft was suitable for air-to-air combat, replacing the F-8 Crusader as the Aviation Navale's carrier-based fighter, but not equipped or armed for air-to-ground operations. Actual deliveries (to Flotille 11 some time after 2007) are to the "F2" standard, giving air-to-ground capability, and replacing the Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard in the ground attack role and the Dassault Étendard IVP in the reconnaissance role. This will leave the Rafale M as the only fixed-wing combat aircraft flown by the Aviation Navale, and plans are to upgrade all airframes to the "F3" standard, with terrain-following 3D radar and nuclear capability, from early in the decade following 2010. This upgrade has been brought forwards to 2010 for the first 10 French Navy Rafale F-1s.
The first Rafale C delivered to the Armée de l'Air, in June 2005, was to the "F2" standard, and it is anticipated that upgrades similar to those of the navy will take place in the future. The Rafale replaces the SEPECAT Jaguar, Mirage F1 and the Mirage 2000 in the Armée de l'Air.
Main article: Snecma M88
The Snecma M88 engine in the Rafale develops 50 kN (11,250 lbf) of dry thrust and 75 kN (16,900 lbf) with afterburners. They allow it to supercruise with four missiles and a 1,250-liter belly drop tank. The naval version (Rafale M) can supercruise up to Mach 1.4 while carrying six air-to-air missiles (MBDA MICA).
A Rafale M landing on an aircraft carrier.
The Rafale is now in service in the trials and training role with the French Air Force (CEAM/EC 5/330). EC 1/7 at Saint-Dizier was expected to receive a nucleus of 8–10 Rafale F2s during the summer of 2006, and was set to enter full operational service (with robust air-to-air and stand off air-to-ground precision attack capabilities) during mid-2007 (when EC 1/7 will have about 20 aircraft, 15 two-seaters and 5 single-seaters). The aircraft is already in limited operational service with the French Navy (Flotille 12F) in the air-to-air role, and has undertaken a great deal of air-to-ground trials and evaluation work.
The Rafale M is fully compatible with US Navy aircraft carriers and some French Navy pilots have qualified to fly the aircraft from US Navy flight decks.The first Rafale deployed in a combat zone were those of the French Navy during "Mission Héraclès", the French participation in "Operation Enduring Freedom". They flew from the Charles de Gaulle over Afghanistan as early as 2002, but the F1 standard precluded air-to-ground missions and the Rafale did not see any action. In June 2002, while Charles de Gaulle was in the Arabian Sea, Rafale conducted several patrols near the India-Pakistan border.
In 2007, after a "crash program" enhancement six Rafales were given the ability to drop laser-guided bombs, in view of engaging them in Afghanistan. Three of these aircraft belonging to the Air Force were deployed to Dushanbe in Tajikistan, while the three others were Rafale Marines of the Navy on board the Charles De Gaulle. The first mission occurred on 12 March 2007, and the first GBU-12 was launched on 28 March in support of embattled Dutch troops in Southern Afghanistan, marking the operational début of the Rafale.
The Rafale is planned to be the French Air Force's primary combat aircraft until 2040 or later. In November 2009 the French government ordered an additional 60 aircraft to take the total order for the French Air Force and Navy to 180.On 4 June 2010, a French Rafale became the first jet fighter of a foreign navy to have its jet engine changed on board an American aircraft carrier, during an exercise on the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).In February 2011, Rafales flew demonstrations in India, including air-to-air combat against Su-30s.
On 19 March 2011, French Rafale jets conducted reconnaissance and strike missions over Libya in Opération Harmattan, in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, being the first to attack and destroy heavy artillery units that had reached the outskirts of Benghazi. On 24 March 2011 it was reported that a Rafale shot down a Libyan Air Force G-2/Galeb light ground attack/trainer jet. A few hours later an armed forces spokesman specified that the aircraft was destroyed on the runway with an AASM air-to-ground missile just after it had landed. By 14 August 2011, the 10 Rafale of the French Navy aboard the carrier Charles de Gaulle had flown 840 attack sorties (with Super Etendard), 390 reconnaissance sorties (Rafale only), and 240 refueling sorties (with Super Etendard) on buddy-buddy refueling missions.
The Rafale is one of the six fighter jets competing for India's tender for 126 multi-role fighters. In April 2009, media reports surfaced stating that the Indian Air Force (IAF) had disqualified Rafale from the competition for not meeting minimum performance requirements of the IAF.However, India's Defence Ministry dismissed these media reports and said that the Rafale was still in the race for the contract. In April 2011, the IAF shortlisted Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon for the $12 billion contract.
In January 2006, the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche reported that Libya wanted to order 13–18 Rafales "in a deal worth as much as $3.24 billion". In December 2007, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi openly declared the Libyan interest in the Rafale. Greece has also expressed an interest in the French fighter, possibly in exchange for its fleet of Mirages. Libya did not order any Rafales; ironically, less than three years later during a Libyan uprising of 2011 in 2011, French Rafales were dispatched over Libya as a part of the 2011 military intervention in Libya; missiles such as SCALP EG were deployed from carrier-based Rafales. During 2006, the British Royal Navy considered the Rafale as an alternative to the F-35 JSF, but decided to proceed with the F-35. However the aircraft carriers will be modified in order to operate CATOBAR aircraft such as Rafales.
In February 2007, it was reported that Switzerland was considering the Rafale and other fighters to replace its F-5 Tiger IIs. The one month evaluation started in October 2008 at Emmen Airforce Base consisting of approx. 30 evaluation flights. The Rafale along with the Gripen and the Eurofighter were to be evaluated. In September, La Tribune reported that a sale to Morocco had fallen through, the government selecting the F-16 instead. In October 2007, La Tribune's earlier report appeared to have been confirmed that the Rafale would not be bought.
In January 2008, O Estado de S. Paulo reported that the Brazilian Defence Minister visited France to discuss the possibility of acquiring Rafale fighters for the F-X2 program. In June 2008, the Brazilian Air Force divulged a Request For Information to the following companies and their aircraft: F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35 Lightning II, Dassault Rafale, Su-35, Gripen NG and Eurofighter Typhoon. In October 2008, it was reported that Brazilian Air Force had selected three finalists for F-X2; Dassault Rafale, Gripen NG and Boeing F/A-18E/F.On 7 September 2009, during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Brazil announced a pact with France and that the nations are in contract negotiations to buy 36 Rafales. The crash of two Rafales in the Mediterranean off Perpignan on 24 September 2009 after a midair collision, comes at a delicate time for the Brazil-France negotiations. On 5 January 2010, media reports stated that the final evaluation report by the Brazilian Air Force placed the Gripen ahead of the other two contenders. The decisive factor was apparently the overall cost of the new fighters, both in terms of unit cost, and operating and maintenance costs. Some sources say that Rafale was chosen by the Defense Ministry, but there has been no confirmation on this. In February, 2011, the press announced that the new president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, had decided in favor of the American F-18 fighter. On 28 February 2011, the Minister of Finance, Guido Mantega, said the issue would not be resolved in the current year, citing "lack of resources", due to budgetary constraints for the new fiscal year.
In February 2009, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that Kuwait was considering buying up to 28 Rafales, but with no firm order then. The same month, France offered Rafales to Oman to replace its ageing fleet of SEPECAT Jaguars. But in 2010, Oman prefers to order the Typhoon.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was interested in a version of the Rafale that would be upgraded with more powerful engines and radar and advanced air to air missiles. They have now started to explore a purchase of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.This is reported to be because France's Defense Minister Hervé Morin has asked the UAE to pay 2 billion euros of the total cost to upgrade the Rafale.
Leaked United States State Department cables have said that "French representatives have tried to spin the Rafale's dismal performance in the global market to be the result of U.S. government political pressure rather than the aircraft's shortcomings".
A technology demonstrator that first flew in 1986. It has now been retired.
Dassault used this designation (D for discret or stealthy) in the early 1990s for the production versions for the Armée de l'Air, to emphasise the new semi-stealthy features they had added to the design.
This is the two-seater version for the Armée de l'Air; delivered to ECE 05.330 in 2004.
This is the single-seat version for the Armée de l'Air; delivered to ECE 05.330 in June 2004.
This is the carrier-borne version for the Aéronavale, which entered service in 2002. The Rafale M weighs about 500 kg (1,100 lb) more than the Rafale C. Very similar to the Rafale C in appearance, the M differs in the following respects:
Strengthened to withstand the rigors of carrier-based aviation
Stronger landing gear
Longer nose gear leg to provide a more nose-up attitude for catapult launches
Deleted front centre pylon (to give space for the longer gear)
Large stinger-type tailhook between the engines
Built-in power operated boarding ladder
Carrier microwave landing system
"Telemir" inertial reference platform that can receive updates from the carrier systems.
The Rafale N, originally called the Rafale BM, was planned to be a two-seater version for the Aéronavale. Budget constraints and the cost of training extra crew members have been cited as the grounds for its cancellation.
180 ordered, 93 delivered as of December 2010
French Air Force – 62
French Navy – 31
On 6 December 2007, a French Air Force twin-seat Rafale crashed during a training flight. The pilot, who was the only person on board the fighter, was killed in the accident.
On 24 September 2009, two French Navy Rafales returning to the Charles de Gaulle after unarmed test flights collided in mid-air about 30 kilometers (19 mi) from the town of Perpignan in southwest France. One test pilot, identified as François Duflot was killed in the accident, while the other was successfully rescued.
On 28 November 2010, a Rafale from carrier Charles de Gaulle crashed in the Arabian Sea. This aircraft was supporting Allied operations in Afghanistan. The pilot ejected safely and was recovered by a SAR helicopter from the carrier. Later reports said the engine stopped after being starved of fuel due to confusion by the pilot over the operation of valves in the fuel tanks.
A Rafale M flies above the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
Data from Dassault Aviation, Superfighters, French Navy, International Directory of Military Aircraft
Length: 15.27 m (50.1 ft)
Wingspan: 10.80 m (35.4 ft)
Height: 5.34 m (17.5 ft)
Wing area: 45.7 m² (492 ft²)
Empty weight: 9,500 kg (C), 9,770 kg (B), 10,196 kg (M)
Loaded weight: 14,016 kg (30,900 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 24,500 kg (C/D), 22,200 kg (M) (54,000 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Snecma M88-2 turbofans
Dry thrust: 50.04 kN (11,250 lbf) each
Thrust with afterburner: 75.62 kN (17,000 lbf) each
Maximum speed: **High altitude: Mach 1.8+ (2,130+ km/h, 1,050+ knots)
Low altitude: 1,390 km/h, 750 knots
Range: 3,700+ km (2,000+ nmi)
Combat radius: 1,852+ km (1,000+ nmi) on penetration mission
Service ceiling: 16,800 m (55,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 304.8+ m/s (60,000+ ft/min)
Wing loading: 306 kg/m² (62.8 lb/ft²)
Thrust/weight: 1.10 (100% fuel, 2 EM A2A missile, 2 IR A2A missile)
Guns: 1× 30 mm (1.18 in) GIAT 30/719B cannon with 125 rounds
Hardpoints: 14 For Armée de l'Air version (Rafale B,C), 13 for Aéronavale version (Rafale M) with a capacity of 9,500 kg (21,000 lb) external fuel and ordnance
MICA IR/EM or
Magic II and in the future
MBDA Apache or
SCALP EG or
GBU-12 Paveway II or
AM 39 Exocet or
ASMP-A nuclear missile
Thales Damocles targeting pod
RECO NG reconnaissance pod
up to 5 drop tanks
The Rafale can also carry a buddy-buddy refuelling pod
Thales RBE2 radar
Thales SPECTRA electronic warfare system.
Thales/SAGEM OSF (Optronique Secteur Frontal) infrared search and track system.