Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No scalp for Libya ?

Rafale config for long range strike  
According to the Defense journalist Jean-Marc Tanguy, the Rafale sale to Libya woud have been jeopardized by the Refusal of the French government to include the sclalp-EG cruise missile in the bid.

The scalp-EG is a stealthy subsonic cruise missile using IIR terminal guidance with a range between 250 and 400 km. It is in Service in the French Air Force / Navy on the Mirage 2000D and Rafale B/C/M since the F2 version (2006).
It was developped with the UK (where it is known as the Storm shadow and carried by the Tornado GR4) and was exported to Greece and the UAE for their Mirage 2000-5/9

A typical Rafale load for a long range strike is 2 scalps, 3 RPL741 2000L tanks and 4 mica, a configuration allowing the plane to remain out of the range of ennemy SAM defenses to attack high value ground targets while at the same time being capable of conducting its own escort agains air threats.

A capability apparently too  dangerous to be exported to Libya. Indeed, it is worth noting that such a weapon would threaten strategic facilities in Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and even on the south cost of France... a risk that French authorities are apparently not willing to take.

J-20, the last bird in the delta canard family

Wednesday, December 29, first correct pictures of J-20  #2001
First size estimations :
Length : 23m (edit : more probably 21-22m from noise to tail without the probe)
Wingspan : 15 m

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chengdu J-20, The fantom menace !

Chengdu J-20 during first taxi trials, 12/27/2010
 One year after the Russian T-50, The first pictures of what seems to be the mysterious Chineese J20 are all over the web. The airframe is very 5th generation like (F-22 like) with stealth shapes and a voluminous fuselage which probably has internal weapon bays. At this stage, it is difficul to figure out if the plane has forward canards (many early CGI showed the Jxx/J20 with a delta-canard layout) or TVC. Anyway, this new Chineese plane represents a new challenge for the european fighters, which have been mainly designed to counter the su-27/30 and MIG-29 family. Indeed, these new stealth fighters will most probably be available on the export market in the coming years (10 years seems to be a reasonable bet) hence the Rafale counter-stealth capabilities as well as own passive and active stealth will have to be improved seriously.

Edit : These  new pictures indicate that the J-20 is actually a twin fins delta canard unlike the F-22/35 and T-50.

Read more on Aviation Week

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reco-NG : The french Air Force new digital camera

The Reco-NG pod makes the headlines these days. First deployed in Afghanistan 2 weeks ago, it has been presented to the press on December 13th.

The first stuties of this pod started in 1997, the first flight took place in 2004 and it entered  operational service on the Rafale F3 last November, 8th.

So far, the French Air Force has received 7 pods, and 5 more should be delivered before the end of 2012

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Agapanthe 2010 : training with the US carrier strike group 9

US Navy F/A-18 refueling a French Rafale M - 12/2010
The Rafale of the CdG have carried out several training missions with the air wing of the Abraham Lincoln since last November, 25th.
Particularly, they have performed air-refuelings on F/A-18, while the hornets had the oppotunity to make several carrier landings / take off on the CdG.
F/A-18 on the CdG - Indian Ocean, 12/2010

Source :

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Agapanthe 2010 : On board the CdG, last part

Also see : The 2 previous videos

The British Rafale fairy tale

A Royal Navy Rafale M, photoshoped 5 years ago...
 The Telegraph, December 18th.

Air Vice-Marshal Greg Bagwell, commander of the RAF’s No 1 Group, which controls all Britain’s fast jet combat aircraft, said that Britain was likely to end up with only six fighter and bomber squadrons, half its current number.
He warned: “That might not be quite enough.”

[...] Air Vice-Marshal Bagwell said that one way around the shortages was to collaborate more with the French.
“It looks like we are going to twin 3 Squadron [a Typhoon squadron] with one of the [French] Rafale [fighter-bomber] squadrons. I’ll make a prediction we will have British officers flying Rafale from a carrier within a few years. I’m quite sure of it.”[...]

That's quite interresting and also unexpected from an active RAF Air Vice-Marshal to make such  an assumption but this is not the first time that the British Rafale fairy tale has poped up when the British Mod needs to frighten some politicians (or the the British voters/taxpayers). 
The last time it was to pressure the white house and get the source codes of the F-35 weapon system... it worked.
Today it looks like the pupose could be to prevent too much cut in the RAF fleet : Flying the Rafale would be the ultimate shame for British Pilots, wouldn't it ? ;)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rafale pictures of the day

2 nice pictures from :

Rafale B315 refueling during Cruzex V, November 16th, by Wagner Damasio
Rafale C117 at Beauvechain airshow (Belgium), july 4th, by Greencap

Friday, December 17, 2010

Agapanthe 2010 : videos on board the CdG

First operational missions for the reco-NG pod

The Rafale M F3 on board the CdG aircraft carrier have performed their first operational recce mission with the new high resolution reco-NG pod built by Thales.

This new pod allows high speed / low altitude captures as well as very high resolution shooting at high altitude, day and night.The pictures are transmitted in real time to the processing station on board the Charles de Gaulle where they can be analyzed by intelligence specialists a few minutes after they were shot, reducing the lag between rhe recce and the response on the ground.

According to the defense journalist Jean-Marc Tanguy, the very first mission of the pod was carried out on December, 2nd with a pod lent by the French Air Force.

source :

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nato tiger meet 09 : Rafale ramp start, take off and landing

Not the most entertaining video, but still very interesting from a technical point of view. This HD video shows in detail (no cut) the complete start up procedure of a rafale with the different systems check (well, we can only see the external one like the control surfaces and break checks of course...). Besides, it allows us to admire the nice paint scheme of the aircraft :)

Talks with UAE ongoing to buy French Rafale jets

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and President Sarkozy
 PARIS Dec 15 (Reuters) - Talks between the United Arab Emirates and France over the sale of French Rafale fighter jets are still ongoing despite recent tensions, the French president's office said on Wednesday.
A senior French official told Reuters in early October that the United Arab Emirates had suspended talks to buy 60 Rafales, but Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the potential deal over lunch in Paris, an official at Sarkozy's office said.
"The discussions have not been broken off," he said. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing Leigh Thomas)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First night time launch of Sagem’s AASM guided weapon with infrared terminal guidance

Rafale M12 with 6 AASM
Paris, December 14, 2010 (Press release from Safran group)

Sagem (Safran group) and French defense procurement agency DGA have successfully performed the first night time launch of the 250 kg AASM modular air-to-ground weapon with infrared terminal guidance, as part of export evaluation tests.

The test was carried out by French armed forces using a Rafale multirole fighter deployed at the DGA’s missile test center in Biscarosse, southwest France. The weapon was launched at a range of more than 50 km from the target, with a vertical terminal trajectory.

Operating at night, the AASM’s infrared imager identified its target several seconds before impact, and its image processing algorithms enabled it to hit the target within one meter.

This successful test reflects the AASM’s ability to carry out precision strikes to within one meter, day or night, and also confirms the ability of the AASM family to meet the operational requirements of air forces in the export market.

Also read :
AASM becomes the HAMMER
AASM bomb too expensive ?
Sagem AASM missile test with terminal laser guidance a success

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rafale pictures of the day

Orlean spotter day June 2010, Rafale by Sky on Foxalpha

St Dizier Air base, December 2010, Rafale B310 by Jagueli on Delta Reflex

St Dizier Air base, December 2010, Rafale C123 by Dada on Delta Reflex

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cruzex V : Chilean General impressed by the Rafale

According to the the French Air Force magazine Air actualites in its december issue :

Cruzex has allowed the Rafale to demonstrate the range of its capabilities. The results are impressive : 100% of the missions have been carried out, all refueling done and all ground targets hit with no aircrcraft lost. The versatility and the performances of the omnirole fighter have impressed everybody. 

General MacNamara, chief of the Chilean air group emphasizes : "I was able to realize that [ed: Rafale versatility and performances] while I was flying in the backseat of one of our F-16. We have been shot down during a simulated air combat whereas it is the strong point of our aircraft."

Agapanthe 2010 : pictures of the day

ARABIAN SEA (Dec. 10, 2010) USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and Charles De Gaulle (R 91) join together for a United States and France Navy photo opportunity in the Arabian Sea. Lincoln is currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric S. Powell/Released) 

ARABIAN SEA (Dec.10, 2010) USS Halsey (DDG 97), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Charles De Gaulle (R 91), FS Forbin (D 620), FS Tourville (D 610) and USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7) join together for a United States and France Navy photo opportunity in the Arabian Sea. Lincoln is currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric S. Powell/Released)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Brazil : FX-2 is delayed again

Lula (left) leaves the FX-2 choice to Dilma Rousseff (right)
Despite his promise last month,  to announce the winner of the FX-2 contest before the end of his mandate on December,31st, Lula has finally decided not to decide.
Indeed, he has officially announced yesterday on the Brazilian TV, and confirmed again today, that he let the final decision to his successor, Dilma Rousseff.

It is not known yet if the new president will make her choice rapidly on one of the 3 fighter jets or if she will postpone the project or even cancel it.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that Nelson Jobim, will remain at the Ministry of Defense, hence, as the FX-2, initiator, he might push for a quick decision.

In case of a cancellation of FX-2, Brazil could decide to buy more second hand Mirage 2000 from the French, Qatari and/or UAE Air forces. Last october, Jobim went to the UAE and it is possible that Rafale/mirage 2000-9 business had been discussed then...

In France, Reuters reports that authorities are still confident concerning the Rafale, what might be a good clue that FX-2 is not dead yet.
It is also important to remember that FX-2 goes far beyond the acquisition of 36 jets : The main purpose of the  project is to shape the future of the Brasilian military and civilian aerospace industry through a wide transfer of technology. Therefore, it is strategical for Brazil.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rafale pictures of the day 2

Rafale C124 ©Eric LFBD
Rafale M24 ©Joris Termorshuizen
Rafale C124 is the last Rafale C delivered to the French Air Force in November 2010. it is seen here taxiing at the Bordeau Merignac facilities of Dassault aviation. Picture by Eric LFBD on Spotting zone
Note the single 2000L RPL-741 fuel tank which is a rather unsual configuration.

Inflight refueling of the Rafale M24 in july 2009 by Joris Termorshuizen on

Rafale pictures of the day

A quite unreal picture of the Rafale M29 and B318 by Cameleon on DeltaReflex. The Uniform grey sky and the ground covered by snow result in a very unusual soft light around the aircrafts.
The Rafale M29 belongs to the navy but is detached to the ETR02.092 "Aquitaine" squadron at the St Dizier air base for the initial pilot formation on Rafale M.
Also note the central part of the canopy which is not "gold-plated"

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Flying the Eurofighter and France's Rafale (simulators)

FRANCE 24 journalist Apoorva Prasad takes flight in two of France's (Ed. Europe's) modern fighter planes in a cockpit comparison between the Eurofighter and the Rafale [...]

Read the article on France24 site

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bharain officially denies wikileaks cable on Rafale

"An important Foreign Ministry Statement
An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly denied the statement that has been reported and attributed to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa by Agence France Presse (AFP), with regard to French Rafale Aircrafts.
The source emphasized that the reported statement by that news agency is false and has nothing to do with reality."

Official Bharain Source 

So, the Rafale is cutting edge technology despite the lies of some obscure lobbies.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wikileaks : King of Bahrain, General Petraeus and Rafale Technology

In one of the US diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks yeasterday the Rafale is qualidied of "yesterday technology" by king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain.

If the opinion of the gulf state king about the Rafale is of little relevance, the context of his sentense, however, is quite interesting :

[...]"King Hamad asked General Petraeus for his help in encouraging US aircraft manufacturers to participate in the inaugural Bahrain Air Show, scheduled for January 2010,"
"He said that France was pushing the Rafale and would be there in force although he agreed with Petraeus that the French fighter was yesterday's technology"[...]

The very interesting outcome of this cable is not what King Hamad said about the Rafale (what does he know about military aerospace anyway ?) but the fact that he is actually using the French plane as a mean of pressure on the US General Petraeus to get more US aircrafts at his airshow.

So the question is : why King Hamad has chosen the Rafale to pressure US authorities rather than another European or Russian fighter jets ?
Well, simply because the Rafale technology is the only one capable of annoying a US General ... :)

Also read :  Bharain officially denies wikileaks cable on Rafale

Rafale M18 crash update 2

It has been confirmed by several serious sources : the Rafale M18 crashed last sunday, because it ran out of gas !
How is that possible ?  Well the inquiry will tell, but it might have been the result of a gage failure or misinterpretation. A system failure might had hapenned during or just after the inflight refueling at the beginning of the mission forcing the Rafale to return to the aircraft carrier for an emergency landing. But the fuel tanks of the M18 would had empty before the pilot could reach the CdG...

Source :

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rafale pictures of the day : M18

Some nice shots of the Rafale M18

Rafale M18 at the Ferte Alais 2009 Airshow ©F. Vandentorren

Rafale M18 crash update

Rafale M18 on the CVN-71 ©US Navy - 2008
The Rafale M F3 which crashed 100km off the pakistani cost yesterday was the M18 delivered in 2008 to the french Navy.
Apparently, the pilot was very experienced on the type with more than 2000 flight hours and a participation to the last Aghanistan campaign in 2007..

The wreckage of the plane are laying at a depth of more than 2500 m.
The first rumors tell that the crash could have been provoked by a fuel management problem or mistake.

For the record, the M18 was among the 6 Rafale M F2 which took part in the JTFEX exercice with the US Navy in June and July 2008. During the exercice, it was integrated to the carrier air wing 7 on board the CVN-71 Theodore Roosevelt from july, 17th to july, 23rd.
As such, it is one of the very rare french fighter jet which had the opportunity to be landed by night on a US super carrier.

It was also the Rafale that made the Navy demonstration at the "Ferté Alais" show in May 2009.

sources :

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crash of a Rafale M, the pilot is safe

Dauphin during a rescue exercice - ©Antoine Grondeau 2007
The defense journalist Jean-Dominique Merchet has revealed, on his blog Secret Defense, that a Rafale M of the CdG has crashed today, 100 km off the cost of Pakistan.
The Rafale would have had a problem during its transit to its patrol zone, forcing the pilot to go back to the CdG. unfortunately, he was not able to land and  had to eject near the aircraft carrier. He has been picked up alive by the "Pedro" safety helicopter of the board (An Alouette III or a Dauphin). The exact cause(s) of the crash are not known yet.

This is  the 3rd crash of a Rafale M since the entry into service of the type in 2001. Last September 2009, 2 Rafale M (M22 and M25) had been lost due to a mid air collision during a standard F3 qualification mission.
It is also worth noting that this is the first Rafale crash during a war mission.

The french navy ordered 60 Rafale M.
  • 31 has been delivered
  • 3 has been lost (incliding today's crash)
  • 10 (Rafale M2 to M10) of the early standard F1 are in storage waiting to be retrofited
  • 1 (rafale M1) is being used by Dassault for flight tests
  • 1 (Rafale M31) is at the CEPA (French Navy trial center)
  • 1 (Rafale M29) is used for pilots training at the 02.092 squadron
  • 15 are part of the 12F squadron (9 of which are currently on the CdG)
 official source :

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    US admiral Mark Guadagnini visits the CdG

    US Navy admiral Guadagnini in a Rafale M cockpit - ©MN
    Yesterday, noverber 25th, Admiral Mark Guadagnini, commander of the US carrier strike group 9 led by the CVN-72 Abraham Lincoln, was welcome onboard CVN R-91 Charles de Gaulle by the french admiral Jean-Louis Kerignard, commander of the Task Force 473.

    Source :

    Agapanthe 2010 : first pictures of CdG deck

    GBU-12 in front of Rafale M19 and M20 - ©MN
    The first pictures of the Agapanthe 2010 show that the typical Rafale M load for this tour is 4 GBU-12 and 2 RPL741 tanks (2x2000L), as well as 2 Mica IR. During the previous Afghanistan campaings, the Rafale M were only carrying RPL 701 tanks (1250L)
    Weapon specialists load GBU on Rafale M - ©MN

    For their first mission, on November 26th, the french Rafale and Super Etendard, have watch over a british ground patrol in the south of Afghanistan, supported a medevac and been assigned to a CAS alert

    Rafale M19 loaded with 4xGBU-12 and 2x2000L tanks - ©MN
    Source :
    Rafale M17 and SEM41ready for launch - ©MN

    Rafale M21 in buddy refueling config - ©MN

    Rafale M19 waiting for the catapult - ©MN

    Rafale M19 loaded with 4xGBU-12 and 2x2000L tanks - ©MN