Wednesday, September 29, 2010

French Defense budget 2011

The french defense budget 2011 has just been released. As far as the Rafale is concerned, 11 planes will be delivered by Dassault. They are part of the 59 Rafale F3 of the tranche 3 ordered in 2004 (36 C, 11 B and 12 M). 11 is the minimum production rate to keep the cost efficiency of the assembly line. As no export order has been secured in 2010, the french government has been forced to follow its inital Rafale delivery schedule to the french forces at the expense of the Mirage 2000D Mid Life Update which has been canceled/postponed.

Those 11 Rafale will bring the total number delivered to the french forces to 104 :

Rafale M : 33 / 10 F1 (M1 to M10) and  23 F3 (M11 to M33)
Note M22 and M25 lost in 2009 (mid-air collision)

Rafale B : 38 F3 (B301 to B338)
Note : B326 lost in 2006 (spatial disorientation)

Rafale C : 33 F3 (C101 to C133)

It is also worth noting that 176 AASM bombs, 70 mica missiles and 6 reco-NG pods will be delivered.

Sources : French Mindef and

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In memoriam, Capitaine de Fregate François Duflot

Thursday, September, 24th, 2009, 6:00pm, the Rafale of Capitaine de fregate François Duflot collided with his wingman's  plane piloted by Capitaine de corvette Yann Beautfils.
Both pilots were conducting a test mission with heavy loads for the Rafale F3 trials and were returning to the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier when the collision happened.

Yann Beaufils managed to eject and was recovered rapidly by the Alouette III of the CdG. Unfortunately, François did not eject and was discovered 6 days later in the cockpit of his plane. the wreckage was laying at a depth of 700m, 35 km off the Bear Cap near perpignan.
François Duflot was a very experienced navy pilot with almost 5000 fligt hours. He graduated from the EPNER test pilot school in 2002 and was working as a Rafale test pilot for the DGA.

Today, our thoughts go to his wife and childrens.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rafale picture of the Day 2

 A nice aerial view of the tarmac of the BA125 Istres Air Base, south of France, during the  last "summer defence universities" of the french armed Forces. 5 Rafale were present at the fair.

As it is the base of the french flight test center (CEV) it is therefore the nest of most of the french fighters prototypes : The Rafale A demonstrator took off this runway for its first flight on July, 4th, 1986.
The Istres Air base is also famous because it is one of the alternative airfields cleared to receive the US space shuttle (with a length of 5,000 m it is the longest runway in Europe)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rafale picture of the Day

Mirage 2000 BOB © Pierre-Clement Got
Well, not exactly a rafale picture, but The Mirage 2000 B501, which is used by the CEV (French flight test center) as a test bench for the rafale optronic systems... It has been nicknamed BOB (Banc d'essai Optronic Biplace / Optronic test bench Two seater).
It is also used to test the RBE-2 radar and the Link 16
Other Rafale Pictures on

Rafale weapon loadout thread

Tmor has opened a thread on the Rafale International Forum to discuss the intermediate results of the pool of this month (see on the right)

So far, according to our readers,  the top 5 weapons that should be integrated on the Rafale to boost its export prospects are :
  1. Raytheon AIM-120C7 amraam : 44%
  2. Boeing JDAM family : 41%
  3. Raytheon AGM-88 HARM : 27%
  4. AIM-2000 IRIS-T : 25%
  5. Raphael Python 5 : 23%

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Garuda IV : the Rafale was there !

Garuda IV took place during 15 days, last july, at the orange and Istres air base in France. 6 Sukhoi SU-30MKI of the Indian Air Force as well as 6 F-16 block52 of the Singaporean Air Force were taking part in the exercice alongside french Mirage 2000C and Mirage 2000-5F.
Altough it was not officially part of the training, it seems that  the Rafale invited itself to the party in order to test the indian and Sigaporean pilots skills !
Not much has leaked on the Rafale participation to Garuda IV but the last issue of  "Armee d'aujourd'hui" an official magazine of the french Armed Forces gives us a few clues :

(p.7) [...]After a few days of casual patrols to know each other, things get serious : Interception, cargo plane escort, air strikes... 3 or 4 missions are conducted each day. "More than 20 fighters can be in flight at the same time on the same scenario" [...] In addition, some fighters from other french air bases can come to complicate things, like the Rafale figthers of the 1/7 "Provence" squadron from the BA113 of St Dizier.[...]
An indian Pilot in a Rafale during Garuda IV

(p.9) [...]"The Indian pilots show a great interest for the french procedures and tactics". says Commander Armit Wij of the 8e indian pursuit squadron.
During Garuda IV, 2 of them had the opportunity to fly the Rafale. Although a lot smaller than the Sukhoi, the french Air Force most advanced fighter "is very impressive" states the indian officer [...]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Iroquois exercice in the UAE

The Iroquois Exercice will take place at the Al Dhafra air base (UAE) from 10/03 to 10/06
4 Rafale F3 will be involved as well as  3 mirage 2000-5F, 2 C135FR and one E-3F

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rafale deal compromised in the UAE

F/A-18E Super hornet of the US Navy
The Rafale might have to face the Super hornet in the UAE. DefenceNews is reporting that the gulf state has contacted  Boeing in order to get technical informations on the F/A-18E :

[...]UAE authorities approached Boeing about a month ago and were directed to the U.S. government, which is expected to respond in a month or so, a U.S. source said.
It's not clear why Abu Dhabi has suddenly expressed interest in the latest version of the U.S. strike fighter. Technology may be part of the reason, but politics is likely the main cause.[...]

Rafale technology not good enough or too expensive for the UAE ?

[...]The U.S. source said the Gulf state is believed to be frustrated over price and the technology offered by France.
UAE authorities have been negotiating with the French government and industry a potential co-development of a more capable "fifth-generation" model of the Rafale.
Abu Dhabi is being asked to pay to upgrade the Rafale, while the F-18 is already at the desired technological level.
The Gulf source said, "The Super Hornet has everything we need. We don't need to co-develop or modify it."[...]

It is still not known, though, whether Boeing is going to propose the current F/A-18E or the new silent Hornet recently presented.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Shelters for the Rafale

The ECIA (French Air Force structures department) is testing a new type of deployable shelter kit at the BA106 air base near Bordeaux. Those new shelters are larger (6,10m) than previous one (5,75m) in order to fit the Rafale.

French Air Force Site

Rafale picture of the day 2 !

A set of unusual (and superb) pictures  taken by Adrien last winter at Landivisiau naval base, nest of the Rafale M. One have to know that snow is very rare in this region of Britanny (unlike rain :) )
More pictures on Breizh spotting
3 Rafale M at Landivisiau 01/2010

Rafale M at Landivisiau 01/2010

Rafale picture of the day

6 Rafale M in impecable formation above Landivisiau air base coming back from the bastille day air parade.
More pictures on Breizh spotting

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Brazil to decide on fighter jets before 2011

Defence Minister Jobim (Left) and President Lula (Right)
holding a KC-390 model
Brazil defence minister Nelson Jobim has stated that the winner of the FX2 contest will be decided after the brazilian elections (october 3rd), but before the end of President Lula administration (january 1st).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What weapons should be integrated on Rafale

Weapons currently integrated on the Rafale (Aasm, scalp, mica...) are mostly from french origin and quite expensive.
In your opinion, what weapons should be integrated on the Rafale to boost its export sales ?
You can answer to this question using the pool on the right (multiple items can be selected) >

Rafale pictures from Pontoise air show

Rafale pilot Captain Ruet ©Gulivers
3 Rafale (2 C and 1 M) were present last weekend at the Pontoise Air Show near Paris. Nice pictures of the event can be seen on Spotting Zone and the IRF

3 Rafale in the UAE

French Mirage 2000-5 at Al-Dhafra air base
©01.002 Cigognes Squardon
Next october, the French Air Force will deploy 3 Rafale F3 permanently at the Al-Dhafra air base ( BA104 ) in the UAE

Those Rafale will join the 3 mirage 2000-5F already stationed in Abou Dhabi since october 2008 and form the 03.033 Lorraine squadron.

Pictures of the french detachment in the EAU
Pictures 2007
Pictures 2008

Rafale HUD gun kills

A montage of most of the Rafale HUD gun kills available on the net :

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rafale M goes back to Afghanistan

Rafale M12 over Aghanistan (march/April 2007)
The french Ministry of Defense has announced that the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier will join the NATO operations in Afghanistan for 2 months at the end of the year (no date given yet).
The last deployement of the CdG in the Indian ocean was in february 2007 (task force 473) just before its 1.5 years IPER (maintenance and upgrade stop).
During this tour, 3 brand new Rafale M F2 (M11, M12 and M13) made their first war missions using GBU-12. However, they had to rely on the super-Etendard's Damocles pod to designate the targets.
Today, The Rafale M fleet has changed quite a bit : 18 planes have been upgraded to the F3 standard and the self laser designation and Rover capability will most probably be demonstrated during this mission (at last !).

Edit 09/14/2010 : according to A&C magazine, the french Navy will use 2 Reco-NG pods (from the french air force stock) during this mission

It is also worth noting that the Charles de Gaulle will take part in exercices with the Indian and Saudi Navies before going to Afghanistan.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kuwait evaluating Rafale and US planes

Defence ministers Sheikh Jaber (right) and Hervé Morin
Seen in the Arab Time 09/01/2010

[...] Regarding the Rafale fighters deal, Sheikh Jaber said his ministry set up an inspection panel to probe the French assault jets as well as their US peers.
“What suits the Kuwaiti army among these warplanes will be giving the go ahead,” he noted.
“The Rafale fighters have not been approved yet. Under the instructions of the State Audit Bureau (SAB) the comparison between the fighter jets goes on in a practical, objective and impartial way,” Sheikh Jaber explained.[...]

Discussion over a possible sale of 14 to 28 Rafale to Kuwait started in February 2009.