Saturday, October 30, 2010

The CdG is back at sea

The flag ship of the french Navy has left Toulon this morning. The repairing of the aircraft carrier was faster than expected. Eventually, the replacement of the defective safety valve took 2 weeks instead of 3.

The 10 Rafale, 12 super Etendard and 2 Hawkeyes should rejoin their mother ship during the next hours.

Picture : Rafale M and SEM on the deck - 2010 © Nounours56

Source : French Navy web site

Also read :
The malediction of the Charles de gaulle 
New details on the Rafale M deployement to Afghanistan 
Rafale M goes back to Afghanistan

Friday, October 29, 2010

DCNS Rxx aircraft carrier proposal

Here is the DCNS conventional powered aircraft carrier proposal for the french navy.
The design is very similar to the Romeo project presented in 2005 but.scaled up. On the the pictures (A big thanks to Xav ;) ) we can distinguish the following items :
  • The third shaft
  • Apparently 2 x 8  aster missiles launchers  (4 x 8 on the CdG).
  • A Heracles radar system on a high tower

Pictures credit : © Xav -

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rafale pictures of the day

Picture 1 : Ground crew loading an AASM bomb on a Rafale C during the french defence universities
Picture 2 : A Rafale B carrying an ASMP-A nuclear missile during Airex 2010 - © CR191 - Delta Reflex
Picture 3 : A Rafale M F1 stocked until its retrofit to F3 standard in 2014 (note the empty engine baies) - © Jason Grant - AirFighters

The PA2 is back

A new PA2 design will be revealed tomorrow by DCNS at Eunanaval 2010 in Paris.

According to DSI magazine, a contract would have been signed with the french authorities for the primilary study of a conventional powered (gas turbine) aircraft carrier.
The ship specifications would be similar to the british CVF design but with only one tower :

  • Length : 285m
  • Weight : 62000 metric tons
  • Maximum Speed : 26 knt
  • Range : 8000 nm
  • power plant : 1 gas turbine and 2 diesel motors (3 shafts) + 2 steam plant for the 2 catapults
  • Airgroup : 32 Rafale M

Although this is quite an unexpected good news  for the french Navy, It is worth remembering that DCNS already worked on a PA2 design 5 years ago for nothing as the project was postponed until 2012 by president Sarkozy at the start of it mandat in 2007.

The size of this ship is much bigger than the current Charles de Gaulle class (261m for 45,000 tons). Indeed, the CdG is often criticized for its lack of space to operate a full Rafale and E-2C fleet with maximum efficiency.

An other interesting point is that the design proposed by DCNS is not nuclear whereas there had been a strong lobby by many navy officers in favor of a nuclear PA2 when the cooperation with the british on the CVF (Queen Mary class) was canceled.

Picture : DCNS PA2 design presented at Euronaval 2005

Saturday, October 23, 2010

AASM becomes the HAMMER

The AASM smart bomb made by Sagem get a new export nickname : The HAMMER, probably as a reference to its ability to strike ground  targets with a vertical trajectory

The weapon also get new code names depending on the version of its guidance system :

SBU-54 : INS/GPS/laser

Source Aviation Week

A very interesting video of the SBU-54 (IIR guidance) trials can been seen here. It shows the high off boresight and pop-up capabilities of the Hammer when released at low altitude and  high bank angle/G.

Additional information on the Rafale training squadron

ETR0.092 squadron mission is to conduct the iniatial training of the Rafale pilots. The last issue of air actualite gives some new details about the means and goals of the squadron :
  • 6 air force and 2 navy junior pilots trained each year
  • 15 experienced pilots and NOSA (WSO) transformed on the the Rafale each year
  • 20 flight and simulator instructors
  • 4 simulator cockpits with nearly 360° field of view
  • 9 months of training for each trainee
  • 70 rafale flights
  • 40 simulator flights
Initial capabilities taught to the pupils:
  • Rafale systems basic knowledge
  • Air combat
  • Interception using the RBE-2 radar
  • Air security enforcement procedures
  • Air refueling

picture 1 : 2 of the 4 simulator cabins
pictures 2 : Rafale instructor (callsign Kubiak)

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Circaete exercise with Morroco, Libya and Algeria

    Last october, 13th, The French air force has conducted joined airliners interceptions with the Morroco, Libyan and Algerian air forces.

    The purpose of this exercice is to improve the cooperation efficiency of the mediterranean air forces against terrorist threats.
    In this video released by the french air force, a french Rafale and a very impressive algerian Mig-25 can be seen intercepting a french Airbus A310.

    Picture 1 (above). The Rafale C of the operational patrol seen from the cockpit of the interceped Airbus.
    Picture 2 (below). The algerian Mig-25 watching the wing of the simulated hijacked plane.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    The malediction of the Charles de Gaulle

    The french aircraft carrier had left the Toulon harbor last wednesday, October, 13th and was conducing the last trainings before starting the 4 months Agapanthe 2010 mission.
    One day later, an isolation issue is detected in one of the eclectrical cabinet of the rear propulsive section. The issue is minor, but the commandant decides to return to Toulon for a quick repair stop of few hours.
    Unfortunately, the problem proves to be more complex than expected, and it appears that the cause of the initial failure was due to a defective safety valve which must be replaced. The operation should take 3 weeks as it requires to stop all the rear propulsive section of the ship.

    Before going to the Indian ocean, exercices with the greek and italian navies/air forces were planned. They will most likely be canceled while those with Saudi Arabia and India can probably be posponed.

    The 10 Rafale F3 of the carrier air wing will get back to the Hyeres naval base where they will continue their training.

    This is the 3rd time that the flag ship of the french navy must cancel a major deployment because of a failure. Those kind of failures are normal for a ship of that complexity, but they shouldn't jeopardize the french political and military schedule and duties. This is the reason why strategic units like aircraft carriers always have, at least, one sister ship ready to replace their alter-ego if needed.

    In 2002, french president Chirac had decided to build a second aircraft carrier for that pupose (PA2 project). After several studies, a CTOL version of the british CVF was chosen in 2005-2006. Everything was on track but president Sarkozy elected in 2007 postponed the project until 2012, the end of his mandat. Which of course means, that he will not take a decision, and that the PA2 will be posponed... again.

    hopefully, this misadventure will force the french government to take some actions in order to get the PA2 into service in time.

    picture : A rafale on the deck of the Charles de Gaulle - © Jean-Louis Venne

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Rafale deliveries update

    Rafale C122 has been delivered to the french Air Force (Source Juliet Bravo on Delta Reflex)
    Rafale C124 performs final testing before delivery (© picture by Frenchsky 10/06/2010)

     Also On Delta Reflex, nice pictures of Rafale B315 in long range Air defence loadout.
    © Jagueli 10/09/2010

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Creation of the Rafale training squadron

    Created last June, the ETR 0.092 Aquitaine squadron has been inaugurated this october, 6th by Herve Morin the french defense Minister.

    Composed of 4 Rafale (3 B and 1 M), it will qualify 12 pilots and navigators per year for the french air Force and Navy.
    This common training for the air Force and the navy is intended to make savings but also to allow the sharing of specific knowledge between the two forces.

    Based at the BA113 of Saint Dizier, the squadron will welcome junior pilots as well as experience one on other fighter types, switching to the Rafale. After the 9 monts of formation, the trainees will rejoin their definitive squadron to get a specific training. (navy or nuclear specialisation for example).

    picture 1 : inauguration of the ETR 0.092 at the St Dizier Air base - © french Navy

    picture 2 : Rafale Simulator - © french Air Force

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    New details on the Rafale M deployement to Afghanistan

    The defense Blog "Le Mamouth" reveals some new technical details about the Rafale tour of duty in the Indian ocean for the next months :

    The airwing will be made of 10 Rafale M F3, 12 Sem and 2 Hawkeye (+ the usual helicopter fleet).

    The Rafale will have 2 Reco-NG pods (provided by the french Air Force) for recce missions. This pod has just entered into operational service and will be used for the first time in a war zone. All the facilities necessary to operate this pod were installed in The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in 2008. One of the most visible modification is the large antenna fitted at the back of the ship allowing inflight transmissions with the pod.
    The Rover capability is also confirmed and should boost the CAS efficiency of the fighter jets with coalition TIC (Troops in Contact)

    After this mission, the CdG will sail to the EAU for the "Big Fox" exercice in February 2011.

    Picture 1 : CdG crew trains in the Mediterranean sea ©Jerome Piriou, May 2010
    Picture 2 : 2 Rafale M F3 on the CdG deck. The antenna dedicated to the Reco-NG pod can be seen of the bottom right hand corner

    Rafale quick news

    3 Rafale of the french air Force have took part in the Monfreid exercice
    last september on the BA188 in Djibouti
    Source :

    7 New Rafale aiframes have been spotted at the Merignac airfield, and should be delivered shortly to the french forces :
    • Rafale M31
    • Rafale C122, C123, C124, C125
    • Unpainted planes RAA26 et RAA27 (future C126 and C127)
    Source :

    RafaleNews now available on Twiter

    Article in Le Figaro may compromise the Rafale sale in the UAE

    This is definitely not a good day for the Rafale. The best export opportunity for the french fighter could be jeopardized by an article published in Le Figaro Magazine last June and revealing that the gulf state would have bought israeli systems to secure its borders with Iran.
    While the info may sound rather innocent, it would have deeply annoyed the authorities of Abu Dabhi who would have suspended (if not canceled) the ongoing negociations with Dassault, owner of Le Figaro magazine, for the sale of 60 Rafale.

    If true, this would be a disaster for the Rafale as many of technical upgrades are more or less linked to this export sale. On a polical point of view, it would most probably harm the relations between France and the UAE for a long time : Paris would not understand such an irrevocable decision because of a magazine article. Indeed, even if Serge Dassault is the owner of  "Le Figaro", he has virtually no rights to interfere in the editorial content of the paper which freedom of speech is protected by law, in France.

    On a side note one might notice that this story leaves the door wide opened to Boeing and its Super Hornet which had poped up a few week ago in the EAU. There is no smoke without fire...

    Source in french :
    Source in English :
    Picture : Serge Dassault in the UAE, May 2009 - ©SIPA

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Bad news on the Rafale export front

    While Dassault is waiting for the UAE to finally decide whether they will buy the Rafale or not, 2 possible bad news have come from the Brazilian and Indian  front.

    In Brazil, Everybody is holding his breath, waiting for the brazilian elections to be over. Nelson Jobim said a few weeks ago that President Lula will release his choice before the end of its mandat in January 2010 and rumors in the press tell that an anoncement of the winner could be made as soon as the new brazilian president is selected or during Cruzex 2010 in November.
    In the meantime, Saab has announced the creation of a R&D center in the city of San Bernado no matter what is the gripen fate in the contest. Conversely, Boeing and Dassault remain completely silent. Is this last Saab move a desperate attempt to steal the deal or is it a clue that Brazil may actually chose the Gripen ?

    Another rumor emerged last week when brazilian defence Minister Nelson Jobim met is counter part in the UAE last week : Brazil would buy the Mirage 2000-9 of the UAE Air Force which would buy Rafale to France. This would be a lesser bad for the Dassault who would keep 2 important markets but at the expend of the Rafale sale to Brazil.

    Same uncertainty in India where the american GE F414 has been selected for the Tejas MK2. At a first glance, this is not very good for the Rafale and even worst for the Typhoon whose engine was also in the contest. On the other hand this may help the Gripen-NG and the Super Hornet in the MMRCA competition as both fighters use a version of the F414.
    Nevertheless, Indian contests are always full of surprises and, at the end, there might be no correlation between the fighter selected and the engine of the Tejas MK2...

    As usual, wait and see.

    Sources :

    Picture ; Saab playing its last card to counter the Rafale in Brazil ? :)