Sunday, January 30, 2011

MMRCA Analysis

An extensive analysis on the current Indian Air Force competition to procure a Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

This 142 pages document, written by Ashley L. Tellis, a former Senior adviser at the US ambassy of new Delhi, reviews the Indian seclection process and try to make an objective technical and political comparison of the 6 aircrafts involved in the contest.(Mig-35, Gripen, Rafale, Typhoon, F-16E, F/A-18E)

Despite an apparent attempt to remain neutral, the author inevitably shows some biased tendencies in favor of the two US products.which are eventually described as far cheaper but technologically on par or more advanced than their european counterparts.

A rapid reading will also reveal several errors or approximation. Just to name a few :

  • The supercruise ability of the F-35, while the USAF doesn't advertise such a fact
  • The Gripen NG sustained turn rate asserted to be the best by a fair margin whereas the actual plane has never flown in its final configuration.
  • The RBE-2 AA of the Rafale supposedly still in developpement until the middle of the decade whereas the first serial units have been delivered in august 2010 to the French Air Force.
  • The comparative fly away prices of the 6 fighters which is a clumsy attempt to compare figures obtained from various sources published at different times and including different packages.
Still worth reading but with a pinch of salt though

Agapanthe 2010 : Big Fox exercise with the UAE Air Force

UAE officials on the CdG during Big Fox 2011 exercise
After the Varuna exercise with  the Indian Navy, the CdG and its air wing have sailed to the Oman gulf for "Big Fox", a four day training (jan 23-26th) with the UAE Navy and Air Force.

During the exercise, the Emirate F-16E and Mirage 2000-9 as well as French Air Force Rafale from the Al Dafra air base performed several strikes on the french carrier group defended by Rafale M F3. Conversely, the UAE Air Force also carried out interdiction missions to protect the Emirate air space against  French Navy fighters attacks. A total of 158 flights were performed during the event which involved 3 of the most potent multirole fighters.

No doubt that this 2011 issue of Big Fox was an important occasion for the UAE Air Force officers to have a closer look at the combat efficiency of the latest Rafale block.

Concerning the possible sell of the Rafale to the UAE, it is worth noting that the Emirate demand to get more flight slots in the French air space have been agreed by the French government, allowing the discussions on the Rafale to resume. Who knows, mays be we can expect an happy conclusion to this story in June at Le Bourget 2011 ?

Sources :

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nelson Jobim denies the possibility of new bidders in FX-2

Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, denied on Tuesday morning, 25, that the bid for purchase of new fighter for the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) has been reopened. On a visit to the German Complex in Rio de Janeiro, Jobim denied that the president Rousseff has announced the reopening of the selection process with the possibility to add newcomers in the bidding process. He attributed this information to the "mess created by competitors already eliminated and trying to get back in the competition somehow."

Source : 
Also read : Rousseff starting over in brazil jets tender

Rafale Pictures of the day

Beautifull pictures from Cruzex V
Source : 01.002 Cigognes squadron

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rousseff "starting over" in Brazil jets tender

Dilma Rousseff, new president of Brazil, has finally decided to review completely the FX-2 contest. A decision which is not a very good news for the Rafale.

For the records, we reproduce below the very comprehensive Reuters article by Brian Winter

BRASILIA | Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:40am EST
Rafale B flying over Brazil countryside ©Rafael Cruz
BRASILIA (Reuters) -
New Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has decided to delay awarding a multi-billion dollar Air Force jet contract and reevaluate the finalists' bids, in a move that could signal a realignment of Brazil's strategic and defence alliances, sources with knowledge of the decision told Reuters.
The surprise decision is a blow to France's Dassault (AVMD.PA), which as recently as last month looked like a lock to quickly wrap up the deal, and puts its U.S.-based rival Boeing (BA.N) clearly back in the running.

Rousseff's predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, had while in office repeatedly expressed his preference for Dassault's bid to build at least 36 Rafale jets at a cost of more than $4 billion as part of a long-running effort to modernize the Brazilian Air Force fleet.
The other finalists for the contract were the Gripen NG, produced by Sweden's Saab (SAABb.ST), and Boeing's F-18.

Lula left office on January 1 without resolving the issue, although many observers believed the final decision in favour of Dassault was a mere formality since Rousseff was Lula's chief of staff and she has retained many of his Cabinet members, including the defence minister.
Instead, Rousseff has opted to "start over" in her evaluation process with no clear preference for any of the finalists, a senior government source said.
"This is her decision now ... and she wants to look carefully at the details," the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.
The deal is the centrepiece of Brazil's efforts to bolster its defence capabilities at a time when its clout in global affairs is growing in tandem with its economy.

In a sign that Rousseff is carefully reevaluating Boeing's offer, Rousseff personally asked U.S. senators visiting Brasilia last week for technology transfer guarantees from the U.S. Congress to bolster the Boeing bid, sources with knowledge of the conversation said.
Such transfers are critical to Brazil's ambitions to expand its own defence industry in coming years. The government is demanding that the winning bidder share its proprietary technology with Brazilian companies so they can incorporate it into their own planes in the future.

Each of the offers has strengths and weaknesses. Dassault's bid offers good technology transfers but carries a high price tag, officials have said.
Saab's bid could be held back by the perception that Sweden offers a less prestigious strategic relationship than France or the United States. Meanwhile, there are doubts about technology transfers within the Boeing bid.

Political considerations have also weighed. Brazil's relationship with the United States deteriorated in the final years of Lula's presidency, but Rousseff has shown clear signs of wanting to improve bilateral ties. Meanwhile, Lula had strong ties with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and signed a strategic defence agreement with France.

Dilma Rousseff and Nicolas Sarkozy, Paris June, 16th 2010
The delay is a setback for Sarkozy, who has invested considerable diplomatic capital pushing the deal, and members of his government expressed unease after news of Rousseff's decision broke early on Monday.

"It's legitimate for (Rousseff) to assert her authority," French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde told local radio.
"A huge amount of work has already been done on this. I hope the fruits of this labour will be taken into account," Lagarde added. "We're keeping our fingers crossed."

A spokesperson for Dassault declined comment on Monday. Shares of the company in Paris dipped more than 1 percent in early trade, but rallied by afternoon to trade unchanged.

A meeting in Brasilia last Monday indicated that Rousseff is at least shopping around.
Rousseff asked visiting U.S. Senator John McCain -- the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over aeronautical issues -- and fellow Republican Senator John Barrasso if the U.S. Congress would be able to provide an additional, formal guarantee of technology transfers in the Boeing bid.

"It's relevant that she was the one who raised the subject," one of the sources said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
McCain told reporters following his meeting with Rousseff that "there is concern about technology transfer."
"I intend to go back (to Washington) and make sure that it is very clear -- that both the president of the United States and the Congress of the United States make it clear -- that there will be complete technology transfer if the government of Brazil decides to acquire the F-18," McCain said at the time.
Boeing and U.S. officials including Defence Secretary Robert Gates have already provided guarantees regarding technology transfers, but Rousseff may be seeking more generous terms -- or additional promises that could help ease misgivings among senior members of Brazil's armed forces and Defence Ministry, many of whom have favoured the French bid.

It's unclear how long Rousseff's evaluation will take, the senior government source said. She could choose to review existing bids rather than demand a total do-over of the technical portion of the bids, which could take years.
A spokesperson for the president's office declined comment on Sunday.
The delay will prolong a process that began nearly a decade ago under Lula's predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and has seen several ups and downs for the bidders.
The stakes only seem to grow over time. The contract will likely be worth much more than the initial bids, which have been reported by Brazilian media in the $4 billion to $6 billion range. Maintenance contracts will be lucrative, and Brazil could eventually buy more than 100 aircraft.

Boeing is willing to provide "any additional information" regarding its bid, company spokesperson Marcia Costley said in an e-mailed statement.
"We stand ready to discuss our proposal with the new administration, who will be responsible for the success or failure of this high-visibility acquisition and deserves to understand how it will be managed and implemented over the next decade," Costley said.

Saab spokesman Erik Magni said the company was unaware of any changes to the bidding process but was encouraged by the recent change in administration.
"Hopefully (Rousseff) comes in with more of a clean slate -- has another way of looking at it than the previous president. That can be positive for us," Magni said.

French defence sources told Reuters they had heard preliminary indications that there would be an overhaul of the bidding process under Rousseff.
The sale is especially critical for Dassault because it would be the first export order for the multi-role Rafale. The family-owned company's defence exports have been under pressure for several years as it struggles to repeat the success of the previous generation of Mirage warplanes.
As recently as January 4, French Defence Minister Alain Juppe said negotiations were "on the right track" with Brazil.

One factor that may work in Boeing's favour going forward is a shift in Brazil's relationship with the United States.
Lula's close relationship with Iran, and his unsuccessful attempt to mediate an international dispute over that country's nuclear program resulted in a chill in ties between Brasilia and Washington that spilt over into trade.
However, advisers say Rousseff is eager to improve relations with Washington, which she sees a potential commercial ally at a time of global financial uncertainty and growing strains with China over Beijing's trade policies.

(Additional reporting by Raymond Colitt, Tim Hepher in Paris and Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm; Editing by Todd Benson, Kieran Murray and Sandra Maler)

Also read Dow Jones and Folha de Sao Paulo analysis : 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rafale picture of the day

An almost perfect top view of Rafale C120 taken by Bartosz Bera at the Kecskemet Air Base, Hungary, last August 2010

Source :

Air Fan 386

A very interesting article about the new missions performed by the Rafale of the Provence squadron can be read in the January issue of the Air Fan magazine (in french)

Rafale participation to Aero India 2011 confirmed

Aero india 2011 web site
According to the well informed Livefist blog, Dassault has confirmed that 2 Rafale M of the french Navy will participate to Aero India 2011 Air Show that will take place in Bangalore between February, 9 and 13.

It is the first time that the Rafale will be presented to the indian public. Indeed, at the last edition of the Indian Air show in 2009, Dassault had only sent a Falcon 7x but no Rafale. An absence which had provoked many critics in the Indian media and led to persistant rumors about a possible elimination of the French fighter from the MMRCA contest. However, these rumors were quickly denied by the Indian authorities, and 2 Rafale of the French air Force flew to Bangalore in September 2009 to performed the MMRCA trials as plan.

In July 2010, the Indian SU-30MKI pilots had the opportunity to confront the Rafale F3 for the first time during Garuda IV in France. Last week (Jan. 7-14), the Indian and French Navies have conducted the bilateral exercise Varuna 2011 involving the Rafale M of the CdG and the Sea harrier of the INS Viraat.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

J-20 First flight

The J-20 has made its first flight on January, 11th.
For the first time we can observe its "delta canard" wing layout :

Over the Deck

No comment. Just enjoy.
A film by Gregoire Gosset

envoyé par KANGUROOPROD. - Découvrez plus de vidéos créatives.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Presentation of Rafale to the french president

During his visit to the St Dizier air base, Nicolas Sarkozy had the oppotunity to learn about several missions of the Rafale F3 as well at maintenance and training tools :
  • Recce mission, with the Reco-NG pod,
  • Nuclear deterence
  • GPS strike with ASSM bombs
  • Laser strike with GBU, Damocles LDP and the Rover system (to be deployed in Afghanistan in a few months) 
  • M-88 and RBE-2 maintenance
  • Training using the simulator

French President whishes to the Military forces

January, 4th, President Nicolas Sarkozy chose the Rafale base of Saint Dizier to make is new year's whishes to French armed forces.

At this occation, he visited the Rafale maintenance and simulation facilities :

pictures source :
More pictures : 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rafale pictures of the day : Damocles and Cruzex V

The Rafale B309 carrying the Damocles LDP and Raffaut triple pylones seen  last week at St Dizier air base.
This configuration will be used in Afghanistan during the next deployment of the French Air Force Rafale in a few month.
Picture by Jagueli, Delta Reflex

Rafale B15 refueling above Brazil during Cruzex V last november, Picture by Rafael Cruz,

Rafale and Mirage 2000-5 at natal Air Base in Brazil during Cruzex V. Picture by JB Daedalus,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

France Purchases 200 Meteor Missiles

Article from from

PARIS - France has ordered a batch of Meteor missiles for an undisclosed amount, the Ministry of Defense said in a Jan. 3 statement.
"Defense Minister Alain Juppé welcomes the order for 200 Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles to equip the Rafales of the Air Force and Navy," the statement said.
The Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), the French government's arms procurement agency, asked its British counterpart, Defence Equipment and Support, to place the order with MBDA UK, the prime contractor for cooperative European missile program.
The British authorities signed the contract with MBDA UK on Dec. 22, a DGA spokesman said.
The first Meteors will be delivered to the French military in 2018, the statement said. The missile will undergo integration and certification on the Rafale fighter jet in the intervening period, the DGA spokesman said.

Full article on

Video : Rafale test pilot Yves Kerherve

A rare footage of the French TV from 1996 (in french but cool images though).
The first part is about a casual day at the Istres Air Base in France and the flight test 761 of the Rafale C01 (the black one) with test pilot Yves "Bill" Kerhevé in the cockpit
The second part shows the preparation of a flight at the Seoul Airshow 1996 where the Rafale was presented for the first time. It was the begining of the korean contest which will end 9 years later by the victory of the Boeing F-15K. It is interesting to realize that at this time the French had barely a thin hope to win in Korea

For the record :
Kerhervé comment about the F/A-18C demo [4mi23s] :
"Well, my demo is clearly more compact. What he [F-18 pilot] is doing is very clean, very proffessional, but his plane is heavy, he needs to go far away to gain speed... he makes long fly by without doing anything, well, it's not really the philosophy of what we are trying to show with our plane [Rafale] : we try to show nonstop  maneuvrability, thus the plane is always moving/turning, on the contrary with the F-18, there are long fly by when nothing happens because he needs to position  itself.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Agapanthe 2010 : mission accomplished

Rafale M13 with 4 GBU-12

Last December, 25th, the CdG and her airgroup have left the Pakistani cost after 31 days of non stop mission above Afghanistan.
180 missons were flew among which
  • 138 CAS missions by the Rafale and Super Etendart
  • 33 EAW missions by E-2 Hawkeyes 
  • 10 Recce mission by Rafale
The ministry of defense reports that no weapon had to be fired. It is also worth noting that one aircraft was lost (Rafale M18) during the deployment.

After a brief Stop in the UAE, the CdG is sailing to India where it will participate in joint exercises with the Indian Navy
Rafale M in air refueling config
D620 Forbin, A607 Meuse, R91 CdG
 Source :

Rafale picture of the day

This outstanding image (montage ?) is part of the Flight Global’s best cover competition, by Niels Boswinkel

Edit 01/05 Well, it seems it was a montage... too bad
The original picture credit goes to the French Air Force and was taken above the south-west cost of France :  the yellowish reflection in the canopy is in fact... a beach :)

Once rotated to the left, the montage fit perfectly with the original picture on the right

Good news on the Brazilian and EAU export front

Rafale + Aircraft carrier, the winning pair in Brazil ?
Alain Juppé, French defense Minister has declared Saturday that he remains confident about a possible Rafale sale to Brazil in the following weeks.

"It is perfectly normal that the new President want to manage this file, the decision should be taken in the next weeks. I think that we can be confident. But I don't want to announce things before they are decided"

He also pointed out that after the submarines contract, Brazil and France have engaged discussions about surface vessels :

"This Rafale sale is part of considerable strategic cooperation between France and Brazil. They bought us Submarines and Helicopters. We are now working on the surface fleet. The Rafale is only one of the aspects of a very important relationship at the strategic and industrial levels"

The new DCNS aircraft carrier might interest Brazil ©Xav
At first glance it could be a request for information about frigates (probably FREMM) but some sources talk about much larger ships such as a BPC (4 of which have just been sold to Russia) or even an aircraft carrier.
Indeed, Brazil needs to modernize her surface fleet urgently since giant oil fields have been discovered off the cost of Rio de Janeiro. The country already operates the aircraft carrier Sao-Paulo (Ex French Foch) but the ship is 50 years old and will soon need to be complemented or replaced (despite her recent retrofit and modernization). In this context, the new DCNS aircraft carrier design revealed at Euronaval 2010, might not have been intended to the French Navy as we first thought but to Brazil !
If this hypothesis proves to be true, the probability for the Rafale C/B and therefore the Rafale M to be exported to Brazil is higher and higher.

Meanwhile, negociations with the EAU seems to have resumed in a better mood than during the last summer when the crown Prince, upseted by an article published in Le Figaro (Own by Dassault) had decided to stop all talks with Paris. His recent meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy is said to have settled many issues.

Sources :