Dassault Aviation announced the sale of 24 Rafale fighter aircraft to Egypt on 12 February. Dassault is greatly honored by the Arab Republic of Egypt’s decision to equip its air force with the Rafale. This decision is a continuation of the cooperation that dates back to the 1970s, and has seen the Mirage 5, the Alpha Jet and the Mirage 2000 fly in the colors of Egypt. The Rafale meets the needs of countries that, like Egypt, demand a sovereign air force of the best level.
«I would like to thank the highest Egyptian authorities for this strategic and historic partnership. Dassault Aviation will be equal to the faith that they have placed in us yet again», declared Eric Trappier, President and CEO of Dassault Aviation. «I would also like to thank the French authorities, which were behind the Rafale program, and have provided the political support, without which we cannot make any military exports. I would also like to pay tribute to the skills and know-how of the 7,000 people who work on the Rafale at Dassault Aviation, Thales, Safran and for our 500 subcontractors».
The Rafale is the first completely omnirole fighter capable of accomplishing all the missions assigned to combat aircraft (air-air, air-ground, air-sea). It first came into active service with the French Navy and the French Air Force in 2004-2006, gradually replacing seven types of aircraft belonging to the preceding generations. It was deployed in Afghanistan (2007-2012), Libya (2011), in the Sahel-Saharan strip (since 2013) and in Iraq (since September 2014). It was chosen for the Indian Army’s request for proposal for 126 aircraft. Negotiations surrounding the Rafale are currently underway with several governments.
Dassault Aviation produces military aircraft (Rafale, drones) and business aircraft (the Falcons) in the same design office and the same production plants. Its civil activities benefit from the high technology derived from its defense activities and offer an international capacity for industrial development in return. The contract with Egypt consolidates this business model, which is without equal in the aerospace industry. Over the last 50 years, Dassault Aviation has exported 72% of its aircraft to more than 90 countries.
The Rafale, with its «omnirole» capabilities, is the right answer to the capability approach selected by an increasing number of governments. It fully complies with the requirement to carry out the widest range of roles with the smallest number of aircraft. The Rafale participates in permanent «Quick Reaction Alert» (QRA)/air-defence/air sovereignty missions, power projection and deployments for external missions, deep strike missions, air support for ground forces, reconnaissance missions, pilot training sorties and nuclear deterrence duties. The Air Force single-seat Rafale C, the Air Force two-seat Rafale B, and the naval single-seat Rafale M feature maximum airframe and equipment commonality, and very similar mission capabilities.
Lessons learned from the latest conflicts where air power was used, can be summarized into four overarching expectations about weapon systems by political decision makers:
- «Versatility», that is the capability, with the same system, to perform different missions.
- «Interoperability», or the ability to fight in coalition with the allies, using common procedures and standards agreements, and collaborating and communicating in real-time with other systems.
- «Flexibility», which can be illustrated by the ability to conduct several different missions in the course of the same sortie («omnirole» capability). With this capability, it is possible to switch instantly on the demand of a political decision maker, from a coercion mission («strike force») to a preventive mission (a dissuasive low-altitude, high-speed «show of force»), or even to cancel a mission until the last second (reversibility).
- «Survivability», that is the capability to survive in a dense threat environment thanks to stealthiness and/or to advanced electronic warfare systems.
The «omnirole» Rafale combines all these advantages: it is relevant against both traditional and asymmetrical threats, it addresses the emerging needs of the armed forces in a changing geopolitical context, and it remains at the forefront of technical innovation. Thanks to its versatility, its adaptability and its ability to meet all air mission requirements, the Rafale is the «poster child» transformational fighter, which provides a way forward to air forces confronted to the requirement of doing «more» with «less», in an ever-changing strategic environment.
SPECIFICATIONS AND PERFORMANCE
Wingspan: 10.90 m/35.76 feet
Length: 15.30 m/50.19 feet
Height: 5.30 m/17.38 feet
Overall empty weight: 10,000 kg/22,000 lbs class
Maximum take-off weight: 24,500 kg/54,000 lbs
Fuel (internal): 4,700 kg/10,300 lbs
Fuel (external): up to 6,700 kg/14,700 lbs
External load: 9,500 kg/21,000 lbs
Heavy – wet: 5
Maximum thrust: 2 × 7.5 tons
Limit load factors: – 3.2 g/+ 9 g
Maximum speed (Low altitude): M = 1.1/750 knots/863 mph/ 1389 km/h
Maximum speed (High altitude): M = 1.8/1,032 knots/1,187 mph/ 1,911 km/h
Approach speed: less than 120 knots/138 mph/222 km/h
Landing ground run: 1,500 feet/450 m without drag-chute
Service ceiling: 50,000 feet/15,240 m