Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is Libya just a big commercial show for the Rafale ?

That's the question asked by many observators and reported by AFP today.
The Rafale is currently compeating in several countries against the Boeing F-18E Super Hornet : Brazil, India, UAE, Kuweit and Qatar.
If the French plane is in good position for all those deals it has, so far failed to secure any of them despite a strong political support from the French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the "combat proven" label earned thanks to several campaigns in Afghanistan.

Some unnamed Sources have told the AFP that the Libyan Campaign was the best opportunity to showcase all the Rafale capabilities in a more "popular" conflict than Afghanistan.

It is worth noting, for example, that the Rafale were the first fighters to enter the Libyan airspace prior to any SEAD operations and presumely without the usual heavy EAW jamming from dedicated US planes. Even if Benghazy was not heavily defended by SAM, this event clearly showed the confidence of the French Air Force in the Rafale ability to penetrate safely in an hostile air space without any SEAD or external EAW support. Some potential customer may have appreciated the demo...

Furthermore, while US president Barack Obama was trying to praise the Super Hornet to Dilma Russeff in Brazil, the pictures of the Rafale taking off the Saint Dizier AB to strike Gaddafi forces were on all TV channels around the world.

To conclude this "Rafale show", the annoucement of the first tank kill by the French planes occured right in the middle of the Ministry of Defense press conference :  Rafale making History by stopping Gaddafi evil Forces and saving Benghazi innocent people live on TV ! Dassault marketting team couln't have dreamed of a better timing !

Whatever we might think about all this, the fact remains that the Rafale which took off Saturday morning probably saved many lives in Benghazy. But the credits for those lives should be given first to the pilots rather than to the machines.


  1. 1) What if one these Rafale was shot down by Libyan air defense systems, as it is proven they were illuminated by libyan radars and that some specialized F16 have been to Bengahzi tracking these defense systems ?
    2) More globally, whatever the modern airplane is, aren't they [airplanes]designed with countermeasure equipment etc... and does this mean that in today'environment one has to destroy all air defense equipment prior to any flight ?

  2. 1) Not a single Rafale has been shot down up to now. Proven they were illuminated ?

    2) Yes and no.