Tag Archives: Dassault Aviation

Indian Rafale

October 8th, 2019, Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, hosted the handover ceremony of the first Indian Air Force Rafale in Mérignac, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale final assembly facility. The event was placed under the high patronage of the Honourable Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence of India and the Honourable Ms. Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces of France.

Ceremony held in Dassault Aviation Mérignac facility on October 8th, 2019, in the frame of the celebrations of Air Force Day

The ceremony, 3 years after the signature of the contract in 2016 for the acquisition of 36 Rafale to equip the Indian Air Force, marks the concretization of the strategic relationship between India and France and the celebration of the history of mutual trust between India and Dassault Aviation for more than 65 years.

The handover of the first IAF Rafale, materializes the determination of the French Authorities to fulfill the expectations and needs of the Government of India to comfort India’s protection and sovereignty and illustrates the exemplary cooperation between Dassault Aviation and the Indian Air Force, one of the most remarkable partner Dassault Aviation’s has ever worked with.

The setup of the Dassault Reliance JV (DRAL) production facility in Nagpur as well as the significant support of  the educational and scientific policy of the Indian Government through the establishing of an engineering center in Pune, the creation of the «Dassault Skill Academy» and the implementation of a vocational training programme «Aeronautical Structure and Equipment Fitter», demonstrate Dassault Aviation full commitment to the «Make in India» and «Skill India» initiatives in building the foundations for a national aerospace and defence ecosystem to become a worldwide reference of the sector.

Supported by Dassault Aviation partners, Thales already present in Nagpur, Safran to inaugurate its facility in Hyderabad as well as the French aeronautics and defence community among which twenty companies are already settled in India, this approach will mutually benefit both Indian and French industries and will contribute to guaranty both countries to meet tomorrow’s aeronautical challenges.

«I am particularly honored to host this ceremony today as India is part of Dassault Aviation’s DNA. The long and trustful relationship we share is an undeniable success and underpins my determination of establishing for the long term Dassault Aviation in India. We stand alongside the Indian Air Force since 1953, we are totally committed to fulfill its requirements for the decades to come and to be part of India’s ambitious vision for the future», has declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

New Generation Fighter

France and Germany have awarded the first-ever contract – a Joint Concept Study (JCS) – to Dassault Aviation and Airbus for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme. The launch of the JCS was announced by the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, at a meeting today in Paris.

Airbus and Dassault Aviation sign Joint Concept Study contract for Future Combat Air System
Airbus and Dassault Aviation sign Joint Concept Study contract for Future Combat Air System

The decision by both countries represents a milestone to secure European sovereignty and technological leadership in the military aviation sector for the coming decades. Starting date for the two-year study is 20 February 2019.

Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, said: «This new step is the cornerstone to ensure tomorrow’s European strategic autonomy. We, as Dassault Aviation, will mobilize our competencies as System Architect and Integrator, to meet the requirements of the Nations and to keep our continent as a world-class leader in the crucial field of Air Combat Systems».

Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said: «FCAS is one of the most ambitious European defence programmes of the century. With today’s contract signature, we are finally setting this high-technology programme fully in motion. Both companies are committed to providing the best solutions to our Nations with regard to the New Generation Fighter as well as the systems of systems accompanying it. We are truly excited about having been given this opportunity and appreciate the trust placed in both our companies».

This planned Next Generation Weapons System will consist of a highly capable manned «New Generation Fighter» (NGF) teaming with a set of new and upgraded weapons as well as a set of unmanned systems (Remote Carriers) linked by a Combat Cloud and its Ecosystem embedded in a System-of-Systems FCAS architecture.

The JCS is based on the bi-nationally agreed High Level Common Operational Requirements Document (HLCORD) signed at Berlin Air Show ILA in April 2018 between the Defence Ministers of France and Germany as well as respective national concept studies.

Its aim is to conceptualise the different FCAS capabilities and to pave the way for future design, industrialisation, as well as an estimated full operational capability by 2040. The study will prepare and initiate demonstrator programmes for launch at the Paris Air Show in June 2019.

Rafale F4 launched

Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, received the F4-standard development contract for the Rafale combat aircraft on January 14, 2019, during the visit of the Dassault Aviation Mérignac plant by Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces.

Rafale F4 standard launched
Rafale F4 standard launched

The F4 standard is part of the ongoing process to continuously improve the Rafale in line with technological progress and operating experience feedback. The F4 standard marks a new step coming in the wake of the standards F1 (specific to the first aircraft of the French Navy), F2 (air-to-ground and air-to-air capabilities), F3 and F3R (extended versatility).

In our role as industrial architect, we will be responsible for implementing innovative connectivity solutions to optimize the effectiveness of our aircraft in networked combat (new satellite and intra-patrol links, communication server, software defined radio).

New functions will also be developed to improve the aircraft’s capabilities (upgrades to the radar sensors and front sector optronics, helmet-mounted display capabilities), and new weapons will be integrated: Mica NG air-to-air missile and 1,000-kg/2,205-pound Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon.

Lastly, with regard to availability, we are working under a through-life support contract which will become more «top-down» under the authority of the aircraft manufacturer. F4 will include a new Prognosis and Diagnostic Aid System introducing predictive maintenance capabilities. Other maintenance optimization features are scheduled, particularly with solutions based on Big Data and artificial intelligence. Lastly, the Rafale will be equipped with a new engine control unit.

«The F4 standard guarantees that Rafale will remain at world-class level so that our combat air forces can carry out all their missions with optimum efficiency, whether in coalition operations or completely independently, as required by the French nuclear deterrent», stated Eric Trappier. «This new standard also guarantees that Rafale will remain a credible reference on the export market. Lastly, it confirms the continuous improvement approach and helps develop the manufacturers’ skills».

Validation of the F4 standard is planned for 2024, with some functions becoming available as of 2022.

Dassault Aviation and the 500 French firms associated with the Rafale program thank the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Defense procurement agency (DGA), the French Air Force and the French Navy for their confidence.

 

ABOUT THE RAFALE

The only totally «omnirole» aircraft in the world, able to operate from a land base or an aircraft carrier, capable of carrying 1.5 times its weight in weapons and fuel, the Rafale has been designed to perform the full spectrum of combat aircraft missions:

  • Interception and air-to-air combat using a 30-mm gun, Mica IR/EM missiles and Meteor missiles.
  • Close air support using a 30-mm gun, GBU laser-guided bombs and AASM GPS-guided bombs.
  • Deep strike using Scalp-Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
  • Maritime strike using the Exocet AM39 Block 2 missile and other air-to-surface weapons.
  • Real-time tactical and strategic reconnaissance using the Areos pod.
  • Buddy-buddy in-flight refueling
  • Nuclear deterrence using the Air-Sol Moyenne Portée (ASMP-A) missile.

The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006, gradually replacing the seven types of previous-generation combat aircraft. It has proven itself in external operations in various theatres: Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Of the 180 aircraft ordered by France to date, 152 have been delivered. The Rafale fleet currently totals almost 270,000 flight hours, including 40,000 in operations. A total of 96 Rafale aircraft have been ordered by Egypt, Qatar and India.

Maritime Surveillance

The DGA has awarded Dassault Aviation the detailed definition study of the future surveillance and maritime intervention aircraft of the AVSIMAR (AVions de Surveillance et d’Intervention MARitime – Maritime Surveillance and Response Plane) program. This contract is part of a global effort to streamline the acquisition and support of specialized military aircraft, based on the design of Dassault Aviation’s Falcon series business aircraft.

Dassault has been awarded a contract for the definition study for the French Navy’s new maritime surveillance aircraft, based on the Falcon 2000 LXS bizjet and which will replace the present Falcon 50M and Falcon 200 Gardians now in service (Dassault photo)
Dassault has been awarded a contract for the definition study for the French Navy’s new maritime surveillance aircraft, based on the Falcon 2000 LXS bizjet and which will replace the present Falcon 50M and Falcon 200 Gardians now in service (Dassault photo)

A first phase of the program has already identified the best technical solution, based on the Falcon 2000 LXS business aircraft, which is faster and more durable than the aircraft currently in service. The recently awarded study, which has a duration of 12 months, is preparing the acquisition contract planned for 2020. In particular, it must define the necessary adaptations to fulfill the operational missions of surveillance and maritime intervention, which in essence are very varied.

The AVSIMAR program must renew the air component of the French Navy dedicated to the surveillance and intervention for the maritime defense of the territory and the action of the State at sea. This mission is currently performed by 8 Falcon 50M and 5 Falcon 200 Gardian, who will be nearly forty at the time of their replacement. The Falcon 50M has recently distinguished itself by allowing the detection of escaped oil slicks from the two cargo ships colliding off Corsica.

To guarantee the intervention capability of the French Navy, the 2019-2025 military programming law provides for the delivery of the first three aircraft by 2025.

Qualified by the DGA

On 31 October last, the F3-R standard of the Rafale was qualified by the French Defense Procurement Agency (Direction Générale de l’Armement, DGA). The development of this new standard, launched at the end of 2013, was successfully completed by Dassault Aviation and its partners in full compliance with contractual performance, schedule and budget.

Rafale F3-R standard qualified by the DGA
Rafale F3-R standard qualified by the DGA

The F3-R standard is an evolution of the Rafale F3 standard, with the exceptional versatility being further reinforced. It is part of the ongoing process to continuously improve the aircraft in line with the operational requirements and the feedback from experience of the pilots. It enables the Air Force and Navy Rafale aircraft to carry the following equipment and weapons:

The European Meteor long-range air-to-air missile produced by MBDA. This high-performance missile achieves maximum effectiveness thanks to the Thales RBE2 AESA (Radar à Balayage Electronique 2 plans Active Electronically Scanned Array) which equips all production Rafale aircraft delivered since mid-2013. The Rafale is the only operational European combat aircraft equipped with an AESA.

The Thales Talios new-generation laser designator pod. Primarily used for air-to-ground strikes, in daylight or darkness, this pod further enhances the high degree of precision that the Rafale has shown since its first engagements (in 2007 in the Afghan theatre).

The laser homing version of the Safran Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire, AASM). This family of weapons, with GPS primary guidance and an additional booster, is unmatched. It enables the Rafale to destroy targets at ranges of several tens of kilometers with metric precision. The laser homing version is particularly adapted to moving targets.

F3 R also includes upgrades to the Rafale sensors and to systems ensuring total interoperability.

The Rafale continuous improvement approach is now looking to the F4 standard, development of which should begin soon, after completion of the ongoing feasibility studies. This future standard will notably improve the connectivity of the Rafale and its ability to operate as part of a network.

Dassault Aviation and its partners associated with the Rafale program thank the Ministry of Defense, the DGA, the French Air Force and the French Navy for their confidence.

 

About the Rafale

The only totally «omnirole» aircraft in the world, able to operate from a land base or an aircraft carrier, capable of carrying 1.5 times its weight in weapons and fuel, the Rafale has been designed to perform the full spectrum of combat aircraft missions:

  • Interception and air-to-air combat using a 30-mm gun, Mica IR (heat-seeking)/EM (active radar homing) missiles and Meteor missiles;
  • Close air support using a 30-mm gun, Guided Bomb Unit (GBU) laser-guided bombs and AASM GPS-guided bombs;
  • Deep strike using Scalp/Storm Shadow cruise missiles;
  • Maritime strike using the Exocet AM39 Block 2 missile and other air-to-surface weapons;
  • Real-time tactical and strategic reconnaissance using the Areos pod;
  • Buddy-buddy in-flight refueling;
  • Nuclear deterrence using the Air-Sol Moyenne Portée (ASMP)-A missile.

The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006, gradually replacing the seven types of previous-generation combat aircraft. The Rafale has proven itself in external operations in various theatres: Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Of the 180 aircraft ordered by France to date, 151 have been delivered. The Rafale fleet currently totals almost 260,000 flight hours, including 40,000 in operations.

MALE Program

The first full scale model of the European Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance Remotely Piloted Aircraft (MALE RPAS) was unveiled on April 26, 2018 during a ceremony held at the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show, which opened its gates at Schönefeld airport.

Leading aerospace contractors from France, Germany, Italy and Spain unveiled at the Berlin air show a full-scale mockup of the future European MALE drone, emphasizing their commitment to the program (Airbus photo)
Leading aerospace contractors from France, Germany, Italy and Spain unveiled at the Berlin air show a full-scale mockup of the future European MALE drone, emphasizing their commitment to the program (Airbus photo)

The reveal ceremony, led by Dirk Hoke, Airbus Defence and Space Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO and Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Leonardo’s Aircraft Division Managing Director, confirms the commitment of the four European States and Industrial partners to jointly develop a sovereign solution for European Defence and Security.

The unveiling of the full-scale model and the reaffirmed commitment comes after a nearly two-year definition study launched in September 2016 by the four participating nations Germany, France, Italy and Spain and follows the Declaration of Intent to work together on a European MALE unmanned aerial system signed by the countries in May 2015.

«While still a lot of work lies ahead of us, this full-scale model represents a first milestone of what Europe can achieve in a high-technology sector if it bundles its industrial strength and know-how», said Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. «The MALE RPAS will become an integral part in guaranteeing Europe’s sovereignty in the future. This programme is ideally suited to meet urgent capability requirements of Europe’s armed forces. This innovative partnership also eases the countries’ constrained budgetary situation through clever pooling of research and development funds», he added.

«Today’s unveiling reflects our companies’ total dedication to the European Defence and Security sovereignty. Cooperation and high technology legitimate the leadership of the European Industry and guarantee the strategic autonomy of Europe», declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. «Innovative programmes through efficient partnerships will serve European competitiveness and will offer new alternatives to the off-the-shelf acquisition of non-European products. Dassault Aviation reaffirms its full support to Airbus Defence and Space as programme leader of the MALE RPAS».

«Unmanned technologies and their applications represent one of the key technological foundations for the future evolution of European Defence Industries», said Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Leonardo’s Aircraft Division Managing Director. «The European MALE RPAS is orientated to foster the development of high technologies and will contribute to sustaining key competencies and jobs within Europe providing Armed Forces with a high performance and sovereign operational system», he added.

Qatar confirms order

Dassault Aviation is honored by Qatar’s decision to acquire 24 Rafale aircraft to equip its Air Force. The contract between the State of Qatar and Dassault Aviation is to be signed on Monday, May 4 in Doha in the presence of Mr. François Hollande, President of the French Republic. Following on from the Mirage F1, the Alpha Jet and the Mirage 2000, the Rafale is set to extend the historic partnership between Qatar, France and Dassault Aviation.

The radar cross section of the airframe has been kept to the lowest possible value by selecting the most adequate outer mould line and materials. Most of the stealth design features are classified, but some of them are clearly visible, such as the serrated patterns on the trailing edge of the wings and canards
The radar cross section of the airframe has been kept to the lowest possible value by selecting the most adequate outer mould line and materials. Most of the stealth design features are classified, but some of them are clearly visible, such as the serrated patterns on the trailing edge of the wings and canards

«This new success for the French team demonstrates the Rafale’s operational qualities and confirms the confidence that countries, that are already users of the Mirage 2000, have in our company», said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

Dassault Aviation, its partners Thales and Safran, and the 500 companies associated with the Rafale programme, are delighted at the announcement of this new contract, constituting further proof of their competitiveness and their industrial and technological know-how.

The Rafale features a delta wing with close-coupled canards. In-house research in computational fluid dynamics has shown the specific benefits of close coupling between the wings and the canards: it ensures a wide range of centre of gravity positions for all flight conditions, as well as benign handling throughout the whole flight envelope.
The Rafale features a delta wing with close-coupled canards. In-house research in computational fluid dynamics has shown the specific benefits of close coupling between the wings and the canards: it ensures a wide range of centre of gravity positions for all flight conditions, as well as benign handling throughout the whole flight envelope.

 

Specifications and performance data

Dimensions

Wingspan:                                                10.90 m/35.76 feet

Length:                                                       15.30 m/50.19 feet

Height:                                                        5.30 m/17.38 feet

Weight

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

Store stations

Total:                                                               14

Heavy – wet:                                                5

Performance

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

Composite materials are extensively used in the Rafale and they account for 70% of the wetted area. They also account for the 40% increase in the max take-off weight to empty weight ratio compared with traditional airframes built of aluminium and titanium
Composite materials are extensively used in the Rafale and they account for 70% of the wetted area. They also account for the 40% increase in the max take-off weight to empty weight ratio compared with traditional airframes built of aluminium and titanium

Russia, goodbye!

It is said in The Business Standard that the programme for India and Russia to jointly develop a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), long touted as the flagship of a time-tested defence relationship, has run into a stone wall. Documents available with Business Standard indicate India’s defence ministry is cold-shouldering Russian requests to continue the negotiations on a «R&D Draft Contract», which will govern the partnership to develop a futuristic, fifth-generation fighter, reported Ajai Shukla.

Unhappy with the way Russia has handled the joint project to develop India’s future fighter from the Sukhoi T-50 design, the Indian AF is backpedalling on the project
Unhappy with the way Russia has handled the joint project to develop India’s future fighter from the Sukhoi T-50 design, the Indian AF is backpedalling on the project

A letter from Russia’s powerful export agency, Rosoboronexport, points India’s defence ministry has not responded to Russian requests dated February 9 and March 3, which «suggested holding of the negotiations in February and March of 2015».

Sources tell Business Standard this is because air marshals fear the FGFA undermines the rationale for buying the Rafale fighter from France, a $18-20 billion contract that is sputtering through so-far unsuccessful negotiations.

In December 24, 2013, top Indian Air Force (IAF) officials alleged the FGFA would not meet Indian expectations. Business Standard reported that air marshals at a high-level defence ministry meeting (January 21, 2014) claimed: «Russia can’t deliver on Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft. The FGFA has shortfalls… in terms of performance and other technical features». The IAF claimed the FGFA’s current AL-41F1 engines were underpowered; the Russians were reluctant to share critical design information; and the fighter would eventually cost too much.

On January 15, 2014, at a MoD meeting to review progress on the FGFA, the Deputy Chief of Air Staff (DCAS), the IAF’s top procurement official, said:

  • the FGFA’s engine was unreliable;
  • its radar inadequate;
  • its stealth features badly engineered;
  • India’s work share too low;
  • the fighter’s price would be exorbitant by the time it enters service.
The radar cross section of the airframe has been kept to the lowest possible value by selecting the most adequate outer mould line and materials. Most of the stealth design features are classified, but some of them are clearly visible, such as the serrated patterns on the trailing edge of the wings and canards
The radar cross section of the airframe has been kept to the lowest possible value by selecting the most adequate outer mould line and materials. Most of the stealth design features are classified, but some of them are clearly visible, such as the serrated patterns on the trailing edge of the wings and canards

Contract with Dassault (April 10, 2015) seems logical conclusion of this story. Dassault Aviation, which is the Indian Air Force supplier for more than 60 years, is honored of the repeated trust of the Indian Government and welcomes its intention to finalize the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft at conditions that will allow to meet rapidly the security needs of India.

Dassault Aviation is grateful to the Indian Authorities to be given the opportunity to pursue and extend their partnership and underlines its pride in contributing to Indian defense and sovereignty.

By doubling the number of Rafales it will buy directly from France, without waiting for the conclusion of the license-production agreement, India ensures it will get the aircraft as soon as possible and gained extra time to work out local production details.

«Just as we are delivering the first upgraded Mirage 2000, I am delighted by the decision of the Indian Authorities which gives a new impetus to our partnership for the next decades and comes within the scope of the strategic relationship gathering France and India», declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

Composite materials are extensively used in the Rafale and they account for 70% of the wetted area. They also account for the 40% increase in the max take-off weight to empty weight ratio compared with traditional airframes built of aluminium and titanium
Composite materials are extensively used in the Rafale and they account for 70% of the wetted area. They also account for the 40% increase in the max take-off weight to empty weight ratio compared with traditional airframes built of aluminium and titanium

 

Rafale

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.

The close-coupled canards/delta wing configuration is key to the combat performance of the Rafale: even at high angle-of-attack, it remains fully agile, and its range performance in strike missions with heavy weapon loads is unmatched for such a compact design
The close-coupled canards/delta wing configuration is key to the combat performance of the Rafale: even at high angle-of-attack, it remains fully agile, and its range performance in strike missions with heavy weapon loads is unmatched for such a compact design

 

Specifications and performance data

Dimensions

Wingspan:                                          10.90 m/35.76 feet

Length:                                                 15.30 m/50.19 feet

Height:                                                  5.30 m/17.38 feet

Weight

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

Store stations

Total:                                                     14

Heavy – wet:                                     5

Performance

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

The Rafale features a delta wing with close-coupled canards. In-house research in computational fluid dynamics has shown the specific benefits of close coupling between the wings and the canards: it ensures a wide range of centre of gravity positions for all flight conditions, as well as benign handling throughout the whole flight envelope.
The Rafale features a delta wing with close-coupled canards. In-house research in computational fluid dynamics has shown the specific benefits of close coupling between the wings and the canards: it ensures a wide range of centre of gravity positions for all flight conditions, as well as benign handling throughout the whole flight envelope.

nEUROn – 100th flight

With the completion of its 100th flight in February, the nEUROn Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) technology demonstrator has completed its test campaign in France. Throughout this entire campaign, the nEUROn and associated equipment demonstrated exemplary availability and reliability.

Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce/Turboméca Adour/Snecma M88, 40 kN/8,992 lbf thrust each
Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce/Turboméca Adour/Snecma M88, 40 kN/8,992 lbf thrust each

In the first phase, the purpose of the tests was to open the flight envelope (including with weapon bay doors open), to test the electro-optical sensor and to evaluate datalink performance. In the second phase, most flights were dedicated to infrared and electromagnetic signature/detection confrontations against operational systems.

These confrontations, which produced all the expected results, were performed under the authority of the French defense procurement agency DGA (Délégation Générale pour l’Armement). The nEUROn, in full stealth configuration, was operated by Dassault Aviation. Stealth-related data and feedback will serve as a reference for future aircraft projects.

This success demonstrates Dassault Aviation’s know-how in strategic technologies and prime contractorship, as well as its ability to lead programs involving European cooperation. A new chapter now opens for the nEUROn with evaluations that will take place in Italy, then Sweden. This success augurs well for preparing the programs of the future.

 

nEUROn

For the coming twenty years, the European combat aircraft industry will face three main challenges:

  • the need to develop strategic technologies;
  • the necessity to uphold skills of excellences in areas in which the European industry has gained technical competences and fields of excellence;
  • the goal to provide workload to the European design offices.
Maximum speed: 980 km/h/608 mph
Maximum speed: 980 km/h/608 mph

Facing such a situation, the French government took the initiative by launching in 2003 a project for a technological demonstrator of an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, elaborated in the frame of a European cooperation scheme. The aim of the nEUROn demonstrator is to provide the European design offices with a project allowing them to develop know-how and to maintain their technological capabilities in the coming years.

This project goes far beyond the theoretical studies that have been conducted until now, as it plans the building and the flight demonstration of an unmanned aircraft. It is also a way to implement an innovative process in terms of management and organisation of a European cooperative programme.

To be fully effective, a single point of decision, the French Defence Procurement Agency, and a single point of implementation, Dassault Aviation company as prime contractor, were settled to manage the nEUROn programme.

The Italian, Swedish, Spanish, Greek and Swiss governments acting together with their related industrial teams, Alenia, SAAB, EADS-CASA, Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) and RUAG, have joined the French initiative.

 

Aim of the programme

The aim of the nEUROn programme is to demonstrate the maturity and the effectiveness of technical solutions, but not to perform military missions. The main technological challenges addressed during the design phase of the nEUROn are:

  • the shapes of the air vehicle (aerodynamic, innovative composite structure, and internal weapon bay);
  • the technologies related to low observability issues;
  • the insertion of this type of aircraft within the test area;
  • the high-level algorithms necessary to the development of the automated processes;
  • as well as the place of the human factor within the mission loop.
Service ceiling: 14,000 m/45,900 feet
Service ceiling: 14,000 m/45,900 feet

The last, but certainly not the least, important technology to be demonstrated is the capability to carry and deliver weapons from an internal bay. Today, European aircraft are designed with external loading capabilities for bombs and missiles. The demonstration goals are the followings:

  • the performance of an air-to-ground mission based on the detection, localization, and reconnaissance of ground targets in autonomous modes;
  • the evaluation of the detection results of a stealth platform facing ground or aerial threats, in terms of radar cross section and infrared signature;
  • the weapon release from an internal bay, with the very stringent tempo constraints of a fast decision loop.

It is clear that through these demonstration missions, the goals are to validate technologies around command and control of an unmanned air vehicle of a size similar to a combat aircraft, with all back-up modes insuring necessary safety and security. The nEUROn system will be network-centric capable.

 

Related industrial team

Dassault Aviation (France), in addition to being the design authority, takes care of the general design and architecture of the system, the flight control system, the implementation of low observable devices, the final assembly, the systems integration on the «global integration tests rig», the ground tests, and the flight tests.

Alenia Aermacchi (Italy) contributes to the project with a new concept of internal weapon bay (Smart Integrated Weapon Bay – SIWB), an internal EO/IR sensor, the bay doors and their operating mechanisms, the electrical power and distribution system, and the air data system.

SAAB (Sweden) is entrusted with the general design of the main fuselage, the landing gear doors, the avionics and the fuel system.

EADS-CASA (Spain) brings its experience for the wings, the ground station, and the data link integration.

Hellenic Aerospace Industry – HAI (Greece) is responsible for the rear fuselage, the exhaust pipe, and the supply of racks of the «global integration tests rig».

RUAG (Switzerland) is taking care of the low speed wind tunnel tests, and the weapon interfaces between the aircraft and the armaments.

 

Programme Milestones

The nEUROn programme was launched in 2003. The main contract was notified to the prime contractor in 2006, the industrial partnership contracts were signed concurrently. The first flight of the technological demonstrator was completed on December 1, 2012, in Istres (France).

Demonstration flights

The scenarios to be validated through the demonstration flights will be as follows:

  • insertion in the test range airspace;
  • air-to-ground subsonic mission;
  • detection, localisation and autonomous reconnaissance of ground targets without being detected («to see without being seen»);
  • air-to-surface weapon release from an internal bay.

Programme status

At the end of 2012, the status of the nEUROn programme is the following:

  1. a) The different parts of the airframe have been manufactured and are delivered to Dassault Aviation in Istres facilities (France):
  • the main fuselage by SAAB;
  • the rear fuselage and the exhaust nozzle by HAI;
  • the wings by EADS-CASA;
  • the bay doors by Alenia;
  • the weapon interface by RUAG;
  • the structural parts contributing to the low observability by Dassault Aviation factories of Argenteuil and Biarritz.
  1. b) The final assembly and the final layout of the piping, electrical wiring and equipment installation, including the engine and the landing gear, were completed in the Dassault Aviation facilities.
  2. c) The software integration in the various electronic equipment was completed, using the «global integration tests rig» in Istres.
  3. d) The ground tests (hydraulics, electrical, fuel), soon to be followed by comprehensive engine tests, took place throughout 2012 with a first flight at the end of 2012.
  4. e) The maiden flight was completed on December 1, 2012. This first sortie proceeded exactly as expected. It lasted twenty-five minutes and validated the vehicle’s main flight parameters. Take-off was entirely automatic and the aircraft reached an altitude of about 2,000 meters/6,561 feet, before turning round, completing the approach and then landing.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frNsu7g7r94

100th flight of the nEUROn, Istres, the 26th February 2015

 

Egypt’s Rafale

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.

The Rafale features a delta wing with close-coupled canards. In-house research in computational fluid dynamics has shown the specific benefits of close coupling between the wings and the canards: it ensures a wide range of centre of gravity positions for all flight conditions, as well as benign handling throughout the whole flight envelope
The Rafale features a delta wing with close-coupled canards. In-house research in computational fluid dynamics has shown the specific benefits of close coupling between the wings and the canards: it ensures a wide range of centre of gravity positions for all flight conditions, as well as benign handling throughout the whole flight envelope

«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 close-coupled canards/delta wing configuration is key to the combat performance of the Rafale: even at high angle-of-attack, it remains fully agile, and its range performance in strike missions with heavy weapon loads is unmatched for such a compact design
The close-coupled canards/delta wing configuration is key to the combat performance of the Rafale: even at high angle-of-attack, it remains fully agile, and its range performance in strike missions with heavy weapon loads is unmatched for such a compact design

 

Rafale

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.

Composite materials are extensively used in the Rafale and they account for 70% of the wetted area. They also account for the 40% increase in the max take-off weight to empty weight ratio compared with traditional airframes built of aluminium and titanium
Composite materials are extensively used in the Rafale and they account for 70% of the wetted area. They also account for the 40% increase in the max take-off weight to empty weight ratio compared with traditional airframes built of aluminium and titanium

 

SPECIFICATIONS AND PERFORMANCE

Dimensions

Wingspan:                                                 10.90 m/35.76 feet

Length:                                                        15.30 m/50.19 feet

Height:                                                         5.30 m/17.38 feet

Weight

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

Store stations

Total:                                                               14

Heavy – wet:                                                5

Performance

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

The radar cross section of the airframe has been kept to the lowest possible value by selecting the most adequate outer mould line and materials. Most of the stealth design features are classified, but some of them are clearly visible, such as the serrated patterns on the trailing edge of the wings and canards
The radar cross section of the airframe has been kept to the lowest possible value by selecting the most adequate outer mould line and materials. Most of the stealth design features are classified, but some of them are clearly visible, such as the serrated patterns on the trailing edge of the wings and canards