Monday, November 23, 2015

Chammal, First missions for the CDG

2015/11/23 The Rafale M of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier have conducted their first strikes in Irak against IS positions around Mossoul and Ramadi. The video released today by the French Mindef shows 3 Rafale M being launched. The first 2 are loaded with AASM missiles and GBU-12 LGB. The 3rd one is equiped for reconnaissance with the AEROS pod. It is worth noting that this particular aircraft (M42) is one of the latest to have entered service with the French Navy. It is equiped with an AESA RBE-2 Radar, OSF-IT and DDM-NG (F3O-4T standard)

18 Rafale,  8 SEM and 2 E-2C are onboard the CDG: This is the biggest Rafale M deployment ever.

source: Mindef

Monday, November 16, 2015

France strikes back on ISIS command center

Sunday night 2015/11/15
Following the terror attacks in Paris last Friday, French Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighter jets have conducted massive air strikes on daesh head quaters at Raqqah in Syria.

At least 4 Rafale were involved in the raid alongside Mirage 2000D and Mirage 2000N.
The targets were a Command center and a training camp.
On the video below we can see 4 Rafale and 4 Mirage 2000N/D taking off from airbases in the UAE and Jordan.
The Rafale were apparently carrying 4 GBU-12 each, while the Mirage 2000D and N were loaded with GBU-12 (or GBU-49) and GBU-24.

According to the French Ministry of defense more than 20 bombs would have been fired during the strike.

Sources :

Thursday, July 16, 2015

First Egyptian Rafale spotted

Rafale DM01 ©Alexandre Dubath
French web site Defens'Aero and Delta Reflex forum have published the first pictures of Egyptian Rafale DM01 and DM02 on final approach at the Istres air base.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Paris Air show, Rafale static display and testbed

Besides the Rafale C performing the solo display, 3 other Rafale can be seen on the static display :

On Dassault static display:
  • The Rafale M42 with the deadly 4 Meteor / 4 Mica Air to Air loadout + an additional Exocet Missile
  • The Rafale C131 with an assymetrical GBU-24 / 3 AASM loadout + reco NG pod
On DGA static display:
  • A Rafale C with 6 laser AASM
Also present are the Mirage 2000D #676 and the "ABE-NG" testbed based on a Fokker 100. The Mirage should perform the initial trials of the new Thalès Talios pod while the Fokker will replace the 3 Mystere XX for the Rafale equipment trials. It took 5 years for the French company Sabena to modify this Fokker 100. The early field tests should start in early 2016 with the IFF-NG and new communication systems for the Rafale.
The ABE-NG features a reinforced front section able to carry 500 Kg of equipment like the RBE-2 AESA radar. The lower center fuselage can sustain a 1 tonne loadout  and the wings have also been strengthened to carry Mica and Meteor Air to Air missiles. However, no missile can be fired as it is not the purpose of this aircraft.
Although it will primarily be used to test Rafale equipments, the aircraft is completely modular and can be adaped to assess non Rafale systems as well. Each electronic bay can be sent directly to the manufacturer (they were designed to go through the Fokker main door) so that it can prepare the setup to be tested in its own facility. The bays are on the right side of the deck and 4 operator consoles are available on the left. The right seat of the cockpit can also be used to control external load (such as pods) thanks to a dedicated joystick and display. Moreover, 15 additionnal passenger seats are located at the back of the plane.

This project was driven by cost efficiency: this is one of the reasons why Sabena selected  the Fokker 100, a sturdy and easy to maintain air liner with twice the payload, more electric power and cooling capacity than the small Dassault bizzjet. Even if it is not produced anymore, the type is quite recent (late 80ies) and there is still a fleet of 160 aircrafts operated by various airlines around the world. This will insure easy support and maintenance compare to the ageing Mystere XX.

video, DDM-NG in action

On this video clip from MBDA, we can briefly see the DDM-NG imagery. The DDM-NG is the new Passive Imaging Infrared Missile Warning System (PIIMW) installed on all Rafale F3 O-4T. It produces a sperical view around the aircraft thanks to 2 IR sensors with fisheye lenses on each side of the tail fin.

Paris Air show, day one

With the noticeable absence of its 4 main western competitors (Eurofighter, Gripen, F/A-18E/F and F-35) the Rafale is clearly the star of this year Paris Air show.

The week began with the visit of French President François Hollande and his Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who played an active role in the first export successes of the jet:
In 3 months, 2 contracts were signed with Egypt (24 aicrafts) and Qatar (24 aircrafts + 12 options).
Within the same period, India also confirmed its intention to acquire quickly 36 Rafale off the shelf.

As the first export customer of the Rafale, the Egyptian delegation poses proudly in front of its future fighter jet. The Egyptian Air Force, will receive its first 3 Rafale within a month just in time for the inauguration of the new Suez Canal.
This 51st Paris Air show was a good occasion for several countries to visit the Dassault chalet, some of them quite unexpected like the Croatian Air Force delegation.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Le Bourget 2015, Dassault static display takes shape

The Paris Air show will take place next week (06/15 to 06/21). As usual 2 Rafale will be prensent on the Dassaut aviation's static display :

A Rafale C from the Normandie Niemen squadron with a very peculiar asymmetrical loadout :
  • 3 AASM laser missiles on the left wing
  • 1 GBU-24 Laser guided bomb on the right wing
  • 4 mica missiles
  • A model of the futur Thales Talios pod
  • 1 AEROS recce pod
  • 2 x 2000L tanks
 The Rafale M42 (F3.4+ with OSF IT, RBE-2 AESA and DDM-NG) in Air to Air / Air to sea configuration (same as las year) :
  • 4 Meteor missiles
  • 4 Mica missiles
  • 1 AM-39 exocet anti-ship missile
  • 2 x 1250L tanks
Dassault press conference

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

First export order for Thales Talios pod

Thales has announced the first export success of the Talios pod today. The customer and the quantity of pod ordered are unknown)
The Talios ("Targeting Long range Identification Optronic System") is the successor of the Damocles laser designation pod and is due to enter service in 2018 on the French Rafale F3R.

According to Jane's, the first prototype should be ready by the end of 2015 and the trials will start in 2016

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rafale fires its first laser AASM during a combat mission

AASM laser seeker
Air&Cosmos has revealed that an AASM with the new laser guidance kit (SBU-54) was fired for the fist time by a Rafale during a strike mission over Irak (Chamal operation) on May 11th 2015.
This new version of the SAGEM stand off missile, qualified 1 year ago,  add a laser sensor to the default INS/GPS guiding system of the weapon, allowing accurate targeting of fast moving ground vehicules up to 80 Km/h.

Sources :

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sniper advanced targeting pod to be intergrated on Rafale ?

Rafale B carrying a Lockheed Martin Sniper pod
Keen observers must have spotted that the Rafale illustrating our previous article was carrying a peculiar Laser Designation pod, very different from the Damocles LDP usually mounted on the French fighter.

Apparently, this "photoshop montage" officially released by Dassault Aviation was a first hint of a possible future integration of the Lokheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper advanced targeting pod on Qatari Rafale.

2 Days ago, IHN Jane's published an article confirming that the american pod integration was indeed being discussed for export Rafale customers. Jane's points out that Egypt already operates the Sniper on its F-16 and could logically wish to use them on its 24 Rafale fighter jets.

Moreover, the UAE could also be interested by the Sniper in case of a Rafale purchase. They currently use the Damocles on their Mirage 2000-9 and the Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-32 pod on their F-16E/F, but some of these "Desert Falcon" would have been recently spotted with sniper pods as well. This could indicate that this equipement is being tested by the Emirate state.

Although the Thales Damocles used by the Rafale today is able to operate efficiently at very long range, day or night in chalanging weather conditions, it lacks the high resolution NIR/visible channel of the Lockheed Martin Sniper which is particularly adapted to current air operations in the middle east. Indeed, it allows accurate identification of vehicles and individuals on the ground, even in cluterred hurban zones.
This would explain why a Sniper integration is asked by Rafale customers who can't wait for the Damocles upgrade (Talios) due to enter service in 2018.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dassault on the Qatar deal

It's official, French President François Hollande Will go to Doha next Monday to oversee the signature of a deal estimated at € 6.3 billion  for 24 aircrafts (and 12 options), weapons and pilot training in France.

Qatar had been actively negociating with France for 2 years and the decision would have been finaly taken by Cheikh Tamim ben Hamad Al Thani on April 21st during the last visit of French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Qatar.

Here is the Tweet by Dassault, and the press release :

Qatar has chosen the Rafale 

Saint-Cloud, France, April 30, 2015 - 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.
“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.

This is is the third Rafale order in 3 months for a total of 84 aircrafts.
  • Egypt : 24 aircrafts (Announced on 2015/02/12 ; contract signed 2015/02/16)
  • India : 36 aircrafts (Announced on 2015/04/10 ; contract still to be signed)
  • Qatar : 24 aircrafts (Announced on 2015/04/30 ; contract to be signed on 2015/05/04)
Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, indicated today that Egypt and Qatar jets can be delivered by just delaying the French orders. However the production will have to double (22 aicrafts / year) when India will have formaly signed ; a significant production increase that would generate thousands of new jobs in the French aerospace industry.

Sources : 

Successful Meteor firing

First guided meteor launch form a Rafale B
Also note the white satcom antenna behind the cockpit
As reported by Helen Chachaty, on the 28th of May, Rafale successfully fired its first guided Meteor from the Biscarosse firing range in the South west of France.

According to Air & Cosmos, the missile was attached to a rear station under belly.

Separation trials were already conducted in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and the missile is espected to enter into French Air Force and Navy service in 2018 when it will complement the current medium range Mica Missile.
Source : DGA

The Meteor Missile made by MBDA

Qatar to sign a deal for 24 Rafale on May the fourth of 2015

After several reports about the interest of Qatar in Rafale during the last years, the French presidency announces that François Hollande will go to Qatar on Monday so as to attend the signing of the contract for 24 Rafale (and 12 options).

Source :

Those Rafale are supposed to replace the 12 Mirage 2000-5 of the Qatari Air Force

For the record :
Rafalenews 2014/11 : Qatar could buy 24 Rafale
Rafalenews 2012/10 : Qatar set to replace its Mirage 2000-5
Rafalenews 2012/04 : Qatar interested too

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

India, first Rafale delivery expected in 18 months ?

A French Air Force Rafale squadron
According to IHS Jane's, Dassault might more than double the Rafale production rate in order to deliver the 36 aircrafts to the IAF within 3 years with a first delivery expected at the end of 2016.

"Industry sources familiar with the ongoing talks between the two governments told IHS Jane's that Dassault is reported to have agreed to more than double its annual Rafale building capacity from 11 to 24 aircraft. The company had slowed down Rafale production rate to around 11 platforms per year as no new orders were forthcoming.
The French government is also believed to have persuaded its air force to reduce its Rafale induction until the IAF contract is fulfilled.
Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar told the Mail Today newspaper on 16 April that the accounting process for the Rafales would be completed within 2-3 months and deliveries would begin in 18 months. "So roughly it [the contract] will take three years," he said."

Friday, April 10, 2015

India wants to buy 36 Rafale off the shelf

Prime Minister Modi and President Hollande ©LaProvence
Paris, April 10th 2015
During the first day of his Visit in France, India Prime Minister Narenda Modi officialy announced that India will buy 36 Rafale "ready to fly":

“Keeping in mind critical operational necessity of fighter jets in India, I have talked to him [F. Hollande] and requested for 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible under government-to-government deal”  

This new agreement between France and India is therefore a big change from the original MMRCA deal : 126 jets among which only 18 were to be built in France. Some sources indicate that this first batch of 36 Rafale would be, in fact, the option part of the MMRCA (which was about a possible order of 63 Rafale in addition to the 18+108 other airframes) but it may also be a completly separate deal. 

Apparently, this new contract will not replace the project to build a Rafale assembly line in India but it will allow a quick delivery of a big first batch of jets to the Indian Air Force which can't wait anymore to replace some of its older Mig-21 and Mig-27.
Prime Minister Modi told that the exact terms (price and delivery schedule) of this new contract are still to be discussed by the  two parties but according to his official announcement this morning, he wants the jets as quickly as possible.

This is a very good news for Dassault Aviation and its workforce in France. When this new order will be signed, Dassault will have an order book of 60 Rafale for the export market only (24 for Egypt + 36 for India) and will most probably have to increase (double ?) the production rate of the Rafale assembly line which is currently one aircraft per month.

Sources :
Dassault Press release

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Egypt, the order for 24 Rafale is signed

Mr Le Drian (left), president Al-Sissi (center)
 and Mr Sobhi (Right) © AFP

As scheduled, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in Cairo on Monday February 16th to sign the first export order of the Rafale. The contract was formally signed by himself and Egyptian Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi at 05h30 PM in the presence of Egyptian President Al-Sissi.

Key points :

  • 24 Rafale ordered : 16 Rafale B (two seater) and 8 Rafale C (single seater)
  • A first batch of 3 Rafale B to be delivered before July
  • A second batch of 3 Rafale delivered in 2016 and then probably 6 aircrafts delivered each year until 2019
  • Air to ground weapons : AASM missiles, Black Shaheen (export version of the scalp) cruise missiles, 
  • Air to Air weapons : Mica EM and Mica IR Air to Air missiles
  • Reconnaissance : Reco-NG pod (according to "Secret Defense" blog)
  • About €3 billion for the aircrafts, their equipments and pilots training
  • About €1.1 billion for the weapons

Source :
AFP video 1
AFP video 2

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Egypt, French President officialy confirms the sale of 24 Rafale

Thursday, February 12th, French President François Hollande has officially announced that Egypt will buy 24 Rafale. The French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian will go to Cairo on Monday February 16th to sign the contract.

Official press release (un-official translation):

"I've been informed today by the Egyptian authorities that they intend to order 24 Rafale fighter jets and one Multi-mission fregate as well as the associated equipements. These equipements will allow Egypt to increase its security and to fulfill its role at the service of the regional stability.
So, The Rafale combat aircraft wins its first export contract.
The [French] state was fully involved in this negiociation and thus allowed the conclusions of this contract.
The signature will happen on February 16th in Cairo and I've asked the French defense minister, Mr. Jean-Yves LE DRIAN, to sign in the name of France."

Source :
In the Press :

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Egypt, Rafale Deal would have been approuved by President Al-Sissi

According to French Newspaper "Le Monde", The contract for the Purchase of 24 Rafale fighter jets and 1 Fremm frigate would have been approved by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi on Monday February 9th.

The contract would be worth some 5+ billions € and include advanced weapons such as SCALP and AASM stand off Air to Ground missiles as well as Mica BVR Air to Air missiles.

However, the French Ministry of Defense maintains that nothing has been officially signed yet.

11 F’s Rafales work-up on R91, Charles de Gaulle

Rafale M38 ©Steve Comber
"The Aéronavale’s 11 Flottille (11F) was recently deployed to the Mediterranean on board aircraft carrier R91, Charles de Gaulle, for a work-up exercise aimed at preparing the squadron for forthcoming deployment.  One of the squadron’s Dassault Rafale pilots spoke to Steve Comber during a recent embark of France’s potent aircraft carrier, relating his experiences of flying and training on both the Dassault Super Etendard and the Rafale..." [Read the full article on Global aviation ressource]

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Egypt, the deal is about 24 Rafale

According to the french newspaper Les echos, the Egyptian delegation which left France last Friday reached an agreement for an order of 24 Rafale and 1 FREMM Frigate.

Egypt will have to pay 15% of the total cost to validate the purchase. 50% of the remaining cost will be covered by a loan garanteed by the French state.

Egypt would like the frigate and a first batch of jets to be delivered before august in order to display them during the inauguration of the new Suez Canal.

But besides the Canal parade, Egypt needs to renew its ageing fleet of non-american fighters : Indeed Egypt mainly operates modern american F-16 bk40 but the use of these aircrafts is closely monitored by Washighton. The rest of the Egyptian Air Force is composed of oudated Mirage 5, Mig-21, Chinese J-7 as well as a squadron of first generation Mirage 2000. In addition to the Rafale deal, there are rumors of a potential Mig-35 order from Russia and used mirage 2000-9 from the UAE.

Egypt is currently facing several potential threats from armed Jihadist groups from Libya and in the Sinai desert, not to mention the violent insurgencies in Syria and Irak.

Sources :
Les Echos

Monday, February 2, 2015

Egypt keeps showing interest in the Rafale

President al-Sissi and President Hollande. Paris 11/26/2014
Egypt had express some interest in the Rafale for more than 3 years but it is only since the last visit of Egyptian President al-Sissi in November 2014 that an actual sale could become reality.
Quickly after this visit, on December 10th, a high level Egyptian delegation came to Paris to negociate a deal for 20 to 26 jets. On January 15th Dassault Aviation and MBDA CEO were in Cairo to try to finalize the deal. President al-Sissi, would have put 3 conditions for the contract to be signed : low cost, comfortable loan facilities and quick delivery of the first batch.
The last events of january 2015 would indicate that the 2 parties are very close to an agreement, but as always nothing is certain until the contract is formaly signed.
Interestingly, Egypt could then be the first Rafale export customer as for the Mirage 2000, 33 years earlier.

sources :