Wednesday, September 28, 2011

UAE, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi met Sarkozy

Paris, September 27th, Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi met French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. The Rafale sales would have been discussed. 

source :

Switzerland, Budget for 22 new fighter jets approved

Rafale B301 during the Armasuisse trials, october-November 2008
September 28th, the Council of the states approved the budget to order 22 new fighter jets, rejecting the referendum option.
If this order is stated in the 2012 defense program, the winner of the contest should be revealed before February 2012.

The next 4 months might be very hot for the Rafale with 3 major export prospects which could select (or not) the French fighter.

Source :

As a reminder :

India :
126 aircrafts.
Contenders : Rafale, Eurofighter
Decision expected : before the end of the year

60 aircrafts.
Contenders : Rafale, F-18E/F, F-16E/F (not an open contest)
Decision expected : possibly before the 2011 Dubai Air show (November 13-17th)

Switzerland :
22 aircrafts.
Contenders : Rafale, Eurofighter, Gripen
Decision expected : before February 2012

Rafale pictures of the day

 Today we have a very nice set of  pictures of the Rafale Solo display team taken at Le Bourget 2011, Sion 2011 and Valenciennes 2009 by photographer Paul Marais-Hayer.
For more aviation pictures (Related to Rafale or not) check his Picassa web albums

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rafale pictures of the day

Nice shots taken by Steve Vonlanthen during the Sion Air show, Switzerland

MMRCA, bids should be opened next month

Sept. 22, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne brought some details on the final selection process between the Rafale and the Eurofighter bids :

“We have a meeting of the Defense Acquisition Council on October 7, where some of the issues are going to be discussed. Once those issued are cleared, hopefully by the middle of month, we should be in a position to open the bids. We are in final stages of this process and hopefully [will] be done by the end of the year.”

sources :

FX-2, No fighter order in 2012

New York September 23 rd, Brazil president Dilma Rousseff told French President Sarkozy that the purchase of 36 new fighter jets for the Brasilian Air Force  will be put on hold during 2012 unless the economic situation improves :

“Depending on the evolution of the global economic situation, if the crisis turns out to be less severe than some imagine, then those plans can resume next year”

The French Press also reported that  Dilma Rousseff  would have stated to her French conterpart that she would favour the Rafale if the bidding process was to be resumed. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

MMRCA, French general interview about the Indian contest

Nuclear capability, a key feature for India ?
The Times of India has published an interview of the French Air Force chief, General Palomeros. When asked about the Rafale Vs Eurofighter contest, the General provides some interesting points :

How does the Rafale match up with the Eurofighter Typhoon, the two finalists of the Indian MMRCA race?

"Rafale demonstrated its full capability during the Libya operations. We had 90 to 95% serviceability as well as reduced maintenance costs of both Rafales and Mirages. During the first three days, French air force was the only air force flying over Libya. We were able to enforce the no-fly zone as well as strike Gaddafi's forces with precision and minimum collateral damage. Rafale's digital reconnaissance pods provided a lot of intelligence in real-time for the strikes.

I do not want to compare fighters but Rafale was designed as a multi-role platform from the very beginning. It has been a real success, as shown in Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. I must also stress Rafale is nuclear-capable. It has real growth potential. France will be more than happy to develop it with India. It is, of course, up to India to now select the best platform it needs."

First, the General claims that the French Air Force was the only Air Force over Libya during the 3 first days of operations. That's very surprising. Officially the First French fighters were deployed on March 19th and other allied aircrafts were involved the next day. Therefore, if it's not a typo, that would mean that the French fighters were flying over Libya since March 17th for intelligence purpose.

It is worth noting that the General see the fact that the Rafale is a nuclear capable platform as a valuable argument for the MMRCA contest. Besides the ability to carry heavy nuclear missile and fuel tank, the nuclear mission also relies on the rafale capability to avoid Air defense systems and penetrates deep inside the Ennemy territory... a skill that could make the difference when India will make her final choice.

Also read : French Air Force General at Aero India

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rafale pictures of the day

2 Superb pictures by Gregoire Delatte
Rafale C129, first Normandie Niemen Rafale seen at Mont de Marsant. Picture by Rozanoff

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flotille 11F switches to Rafale M

Monday September 19th, the French Navy Flotille 11F has officially switched from the Super Etendard to the Rafale M. This second Rafale M unit should be operational next summer. Capitaine de Fregate Bertrand Lepoutre is the new commander of the 11F.

Formaly named "1F" after WW2, the Flotille will only get its curent name in 1953. At the time the Flotille 11F flies on F4-F Helcat and is deployed in Indochina. In 1955 the Hellcats are replaced by Aquillion which will served during the Algerian conflict. From 1962 to 1978, The 11F operates the Etendard IVM and since 1978, the Super Etendard and its modernized versions.

Based at Landivisiau Naval Base, the 11F have been deployed several times to Afghanistan since 2001 onboard the CdG aircraft carrier.

The same day, Capitaine de Fregate Jean de Larivière has taken the Command of the Flotille 12F, the first Rafale M unit which entered operational service in 2004.
Source :

Libya, Rafale stats

Air&Cosmos published the Rafale stats after s 6 months of the Libyan campaign.
The French Air force Rafale were the very first fighter jets of the coalition to enter the Libyan air space on March 19th 2011 forcing the Gadhaffi forces attacking Benghazi to retreat.
8 Rafale B/C and 4 Mirage 2000 D/-5 took part in this first day operation destroying several tanks after a more than 2000 km flight from their home bases in France.
3 Days later, the Rafale M deployed onboard the CdG aircraft carrier were conducing their first recce mission over Libya.

All in all the Rafale M have remained 4 months in the theater logging 2000 flight hours in 1000 sorties (more than 7 sorties/day, 2 hours/sortie).

The Rafale B/C are still operating from the Sigonella Air Base, Scicilia, after 6 months of operation. They have logged 4000 flight hours in 900 sorties (more than 5 sorties/day, 4.4 hours/sortie)

it is worth noting than the Rafale M were able to performed 10% more sorties in a shorter amount of time (about 20% less days on site)  than the Rafale C due to the fact that they were operating closer to the war zone. Even more striking is the fact that the Rafale M logged twice less flight hours for about the same number of sorties for the same reason (Aircraft carrier very close to the Libyan coast).

The 1900 Rafale sorties represent more than 40% of the French Forces sorties and were splitted as followed :
  • offensive sorties (A2A and A2G) : 855 (45%)
  • Recce sorties : 855 (45%)
  • Budy-budy refueling (Rafale M only) : 190 (10%)
Also read :
Rafale goes to Libya... for war
Details on Rafale mission over Libya
First pictures of the Rafale engaged in Libya
First Rafale M mission over Libya
Video of the carrier operations onboard the CdG

Switzerland, National council approved the new fighter jet acquisition

Switzerland National Council
After the Federal Council which had recommended the passing of a special budget to order 22 new fighter jets, the Swiss National council has halso voted  the acquisition of new aircradts to replace the F-5 tiger II.

Rafale Assembly line, Merignac France ©Dassault Aviation
The 24heures web site also confirmed that Armasuisses officially ranked the Rafale first after the 2008 technical evaluations, in front of the Eurofighter and the Gripen.
The evalution was including some 30 flights per aircraft during which swiss test pilots were able to assess Air2Air, Air2Ground and recce capabilities of the 3 contenders. Compliance to the Swiss Air Force facilities and maintainability of each jet were also evaluated.

Though, the Eurofighter consortium is said to be leading on the offsets ground with about €6.6 billions while the Rafale International proposition would be around €5 billions.

The rafale offsets offer would include :
  • A Rafale final assembly line and maintenance center
  • The production of structural items
  • The Mica missile production
  • The development of the Rafale HMD, the OSF-NG and Spectra self defense system
  • Several othe military or civilian industrial cooperations (CFM-56 engine, Falcon business jets, military and civilian avionics)

According to 24Heures, the Rafale main avantages were its excellent results during the evaluation (It fullfilled 95% of the Swiss technical requirements) ad its price would match the Swiss budget. Conversely, the Eurofighter would be too expensive both to buy and maintain.

Sion Air Show 2011

The Rafale Solo display team was at the Sion Air show last Weekend in Switzerland. Beautifull pictures of the Rafale and other aircrafts can be seen on SpottingZone and FoxAlpha

Pictures credits :
Thierry Gay

Paul Marais-Hayer

the first swiss pilot with a Rafale patch :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Switzerland, Rafale would lead the competition

According to the Swiss site Basler Zentung, the Rafale would have been ranked first during the evaluation made by Armaswiss since 2008. Eurofighter would be at the second place and the Gripen third.
Due to favourable exchange rate between the Swiss Franc and the Euro, Switzerland could speed up the acquisition process of new fighters to replace the F-5 Tiger II. The winner could be announced before the end of the year..

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rafale picture of the day, AASM-IR and Reco-NG pod

Another picture of the AASM-IR used in Libya seen on the French Mindef website

According to Air&Cosmos, several AASM-IR have been fired during the last weeks

A Rafale pilot prepares its reco-NG pod before flight

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nuke test at Istres

A quite rare sight of  A mirage 2000N from the 03.004 "Limousin" squadron carrying an ASMP-A nuclear missile. It was spotted  yesterday by Tucano13800 at the Istres Air base. I could be wrong but the missile looks like an instrumented one. This impressive tri-sonic missile is also operational on the Rafale B/C and M since summer 2010 (2009 for the Mirage 2000N)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lybia, pictures onboard the CdG

Rafale M onboard the CdG ©Thomas Goisque
Beautifull set of pictures taken by French photographer Thomas Goisque, onboard the CdG when the aircraft carrier was enforcing the no fly zone in Libya.

Also don't miss the reportage onboard the Tonnerre helicopter carrier

Rafale M onboard the CdG ©Thomas Goisque

FX-2, Rafale presentation to the Committee on External Relations and National Defense

The main points raised by Jean-Marc Merialdo  (Director of Dassault International and representative of Brazil's Rafale International in Brazil) were the following:

  • The 3 companies of the Rafale Consortium (Dassault Aviation, Thalès and Snecma) have extensive experience in the international aviation market.
    • 135000 people
    • sales : $40 billion
    • backlog : $100 billion
    • Dassault has delivered more than 8000 aircrafts to 70 countries and developped  more than 100 prototypes
  • The Rafale advantages:
    • Twin engine aircraft for more power and safety (flying over dangerous areas like Amazon forest or Atlantic ocean)
    • Omnirole capability : perform Air to Air, ground attack and tactical or strategic reconnaissance mission in the same flight.
    • Replace several types of aircrafts : simplify logistic and crew training.
    • The only aircraft able to carry 1.5 times its empty weight while remaining very compact.
    • Range/payload efficiency sligtly better than the much larger Super Hornet and far better than the Gripen.
    • Production garanteed until 2030 for French need only.
    • Ranked first in Korea contest (F-15 won on political ground only)
    • Shortlisted by India who dismissed both the Gripen and the Super Hornet
    • Navy version operational on medium carriers (unlike Gripen)
    • 90-95% commonality between the navy and Air Force Version allowing common logistic support and crew training
  • Transfer of technology:
    • 100% from french origin
    • French Transfer of technology only depends on the French presidency (unlike US TOT which need the Congress agreement) and has already been granted 
    • Transfer of technology is considered as a part of the strategic partnership betweenBrazil and France and will be without restriction
  • Offset Examples :
    • Integation of new weapons through source code transfer
    • Production of the Rafale wings for Brazil, France and other export costumers
    • Production of the Radar
    • Engine maintenance
    • Development of new weapons
    • Future devolopments for Brazilian or French needs
    • When acquired by Brazilian engineers, the techologies are not restricted and can be used in other strategic areas
    • Dassault, Thales and Snecma has already a strong cooperation experience with the Brazilian Industry
    • Offsets reach 160% of the aircrafts purchase (both in defense and civilian projects)
    • Direct offer to purchase a dozen of Brazilian KC-390 including French industry support for the aircraft development
  • Low risk program with strong commitment from both French government and industry 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Libya, AASM-IR is combat proven

Since august 18th and a picture released by the French Air Force, There were strong rumors about the first strikes using the AASM-IR in Libya. Indeed, the 2 AASM visible on the picture (see on the left) had the typical transparent window of the AASM-IR head.

It now has been confirmed by Air&Cosmos in its yesterday issue that the IR version of the AASM bomb has actually been fired in Libya for the first time, a few weeks only after it entered operational service on the Rafale.

The AASM-IR (SBU-64) is capable of 1m accuracy compared  to the 10m of the GPS/INS version (SBU-38).
A new anti-tank mode (new targeting algorithms to recognize vehicles) is also under development for this smart bomb.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rafale picture of the day, face to face with a warrior

Saint Dizier AB ©Gregoire Delatte
A truly beautyfull picture by Gregoire Delatte from SpottingZone
Note the gun muzzle under the left wing root which is usually masked by a composite cap (desintegrated by the first  round).

Libya, Rafale M14 "wave off" at Luqa, Malta

A short video of the first Rafale M visit to Malta last June, 8th. We still don't why this Rafale made this fly by before returning to the Charles de Gaulle.

Libya, Rafale pictures of the day

A Rafale B at Sigonella Air Base, ready for a Recce mission over Libya.

Rafale C. Note the thrust vectoring nozzle and the data link antenna on the Mica IR

pictures credit :

Video, the reco-NG pod in action

La chaîne de mise en œuvre du « Pod Reco-NG » par ministeredeladefense

  • New generation recce pod
  • operational on Rafale since october 2010
  • operated from the Sigonella air base since July 2011 and over Libya since the the first day of the no flight zone enforcement (and presumably 3 weeks before it)
  • Length : 5m / weight: about 1 tonne
  • forward sensor : Visible and IR spectrum / Rear sensor : IR only
  • 4 technicians needed to mount the pod
  • Typical mission over libya : 02h45min / 15 recording points
  • The pictures are transmited inflight using a dedicated antenna deployed on the air base

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Les Echos on the UAE deal

Dassault is to submit the final commercial bid to the UAE before mid-September.

According to Les Echos today, after the strong demonstration of its capabilities in Libya, the UAE have dropped their requirements on improved thrust and enhanced Spectra...

This article comes as a confirmation of what was published in July.

This is the Rafale B311, one of the Rafale based at Al Dhafra (BA104), here spotted in India

Picture credit : Arpit Agrawal