Admiral Pierre Vandier – Chief of Staff of the French Navy, and Air Force General Philippe Lavigne – Chief of Staff of the French Air and Space Force, jointly approved the entry into operational service of the Rafale F3-R fighter jet this week.
Defence firm MBDA say:
“The upgrading of the French combat aircraft capacities ranks high on the list of priorities of the French military expenditure plan (LPM) which provides for a 2.7 billion euro investment in the development of the new versions of the Rafale over the 2019-2025 period. The French Navy and the French Air and Space Force are now authorised to make operational use of all the capacities that are developed around the F3-R standard, which is already installed in half the French fleet and will eventually be installed on all Rafale aircraft in service.
Both forces now have a world-class multirole fighter aircraft at their disposal capable of operating in the most contested environments. The decision also applies to the Rafale aircraft of the GAE (carrier air wing) operated from aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, or those of the French Air and Space Force that are deployed from the forward air base in Jordan within the framework of operation Chammal.”
The firm also say that the combination of the AESA RBE2 radar and the long-range Meteor missile gives the Rafale the capability it needs for beyond visual range engagements in all weather, as required for handling a wide variety of targets.
“The F3-R Rafale is now capable of using the TALIOS high-resolution laser designation pod, which can generate images in both the visible and infrared ranges, and will benefit from largely improved capacities that will enable it to perform intelligence and target acquisition, and tracking and designation missions. In particular, the Rafale will feature new and more efficient fixed or moving target tracking capacities, as well as an automatic moving target detection capacity and a new human-machine interface that will make it easier to use.”
The new version of the Rafale will continue to carry the enhanced medium-range, air-to-ground missile (ASMPA) as part of airborne nuclear deterrence missions.