Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IDEX 2011, Fighter market heats up in the Gulf

Janes brief on the major possible fighter jet deals ongoing in the Gulf region.
If the Saudi have already chosen to buy 80 more F-15SA and upgrade their current fleet as well, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Irak are still negociating with US and European  fighter jet manufacturers.

The Rafale is a very strong contender in the UAE (60), Kuwait (28) and Qatar (24-36).
it has also been proposed to Oman (12), but this maket seems to be secured by the British Typhoon.

In Irak, second hand F-16, Mirage F1 or Mirage 2000 could be bought unless the country decides to postpone the acquisition due to more urgent social fundings.

According to DefenseNews, the negociation between France and the UAE about he Rafale are back on tract :

"The discussions are going well," the [Dassault] executive said. An announcement on the Rafale was not expected in the near term, he said. In the short term, Dassault was supporting the Mirage 2000 operated by the UAE, while the Rafale was seen as a medium- or long-term prospect, he said.
[...]
Subsequently, relations were smoothed out between France and Abu Dhabi.
"They managed to fix it," a gulf defense official said. "The talks are back on."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Indian Air Force MMRCA ranking

©Livefist
Livefist has published the results of a pool on different possible MMRCA rankings.
Well, nothing new at first sight...
Howerver one of the choice in the list is said by the author to be the actual ranking leaked by IAF officers to selected journalists at Aero India 2011.
If tue, then we can conclude the following :



  • Mig-35 is N°6
  • F-16 is N°5
  • Gripen is N°3 or N°4
  • Eurofighter is N°1 or N°2
  • Rafale is N°1 or N°2 or N°3
  • F/A-18 is N°1 or N°2 or N°3 or N°4 
According to Livefist, the official IAF ranking should be released in few weeks...

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    French Prime Minister on the CdG

    French prime minister with CdG landing officers
    French prime minister in Rafale M cockpit
    The French prime Minister, François Fillon, was in the gulf last week to meet the UAE and Saudi Arabia authorities. on February 13th he also visited the Charles de gaulle aircraft carrier which was taking part in the White Shark exercise with the Saudi Air Force and Navy.
    French prime minister reviews the CdG crew on the CdG deck

    French prime minister speech in the CdG hangar

    IDEX 2011, Rafale omnirole load-out

    UAE multirole load-out
    Seen on the display stand of MBDA at IDEX military fair taking place this week in the UAE : a heavy Rafale omnirole load-out. 
    • 4 mica IR/EM mix
    • 2 meteor (on the rear fuselage hardpoints)
    • 1 scalp/black shaheen cruise missile
    • 1 AM-39 bk2 exocet anti-ship missile
    • 3 SBU-38 Hammer INS/GPS/IIR bombs
    It is not rare to see exotic weapon configurations on missile manufacturer stands but this particular one is really a premiere. Whether it has any operational relevance remains to be confirmed though.

    Source : Xav on Air Defense ;)

    Retro, first Rafale M01 carrier landing and take off

    April 19th 1993, 2:43 pm;  the first Rafale M prototype (M01) piloted by Yves Kehrervé, lands for the first time on the Foch (now the Sao paulo) aircraft carrier.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Rafale comes of age

    To read in the March issue of AirForces monthly :
    Gert Kromhout finds out how Dassault’s Rafale is being integrated into the French Air Force’s structure and the measures being taken to realise its full potential.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Aero India 2011, Shiv Aroor's Rafale flight video

    UAE Deal secured for the Rafale ?

    UAE Crown Prince - Paris, 2010 Dec. 15
    The French newspaper La Tribune Reveals that the agreements reached last January, 25 with the UAE to allow more commercial flights in France for Emirates and Etihad Airways would include (off the records) the assurance that the Gulf state will buy some 60 Rafale.
    Indeed, Back in June, the request for additional flights in France by the two Arab airlines, was dismissed by the French authorities who were protecting the Air France's interests. 


    The failed negotiations provoked a series of commercial retaliations from the UAE, including the unilateral stop of the ongoing Rafale deal by the Crown Prince himself.

    December 15, crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, met french president Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. Apparently, the meeting allowed to settle the different issues and new negotiations were scheduled in Abu Dhabi in January when the final agreements were signed providing new slots in French skies for Emirates and Etihad Airways to the expense of Air France. The side benefits of these concessions would be the garanty that the UAE will fulfill several "on old" deals among which the Rafale one.

    Source : http://www.latribune.fr/
    Also read : 
    Agapanthe 2010, Big Fox exercise withe the UAE
    Good news on brazilian and eau export front
    Talks with UAE ongoing to buy french Rafale

    Aero India 2011, Shiv Aroor's report on his Rafale flight


    We reproduce his text here for the record :

    FIRST HAND: Flying The Dassault Rafale

    On February 7 at about 1910HRS, not long after walking away after many hours in an IAF Antonov-32 transporter that shipped me and other journalists from Delhi via Nagpur to Bangalore, I received a brief phonecall from an Armée de l'Air Group Captain at the Embassy of France. It was a brief message to inform me that I had been invited to fly in the Dassault Rafale fighter on February 10 at 5PM, and that I would be supplied with more information in the next few days. I wasn't expecting the phonecall. Even less, a flight in the Rafale -- arguably the least visible contender in the Indian MMRCA competition. Well, only so far, as it turns out. Dassault is a conservative organisation that I had thought didn't pay much attention to this sort of thing. The only person I personally knew who had flown a Rafale sortie was former Indian Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash. So as I kicked back in my room that evening, the only thing I could think was, "Huh?".

    Shaking off all expectations and tradition, the French had flown in two Rafales to the Bangalore air show. The arrival of the aircraft was in the midst of swirling and uncannily consistent rumours that the Rafale and its European cousin, the Typhoon, had topped the Indian Air Force's field evaluation list, and led the MMRCA pack. The offer to take a sortie in this, the least known contender, at a time like this was huge from a news perspective. Apart from getting to fly in the airplane and seeing what it could do, I was most keen to meet the people from the company that made the jet and the pilots who flew it every day. It was a valuable chance.

    Sure enough, on Feb 8, I received a second phonecall, this time from a Dassault delegate who asked me to come to the notoriously out-of-bounds company chalet at the Yelahanka show. Here, I was introduced to Dassault Rafale test pilot Dominique Sébastien, a seasoned pilot with 4,200 hours of fighter flying on the Rafale and all variants of the Mirage-2000. A young enlisted Armée de l'Air man got me kitted out to check that everything fit fine for the next day. I had to get fully kitted out to ensure there were no delays. I put on the beige flightsuit first, then the G-suit, and the heavy Armée de l'Air jacket torso harness -- the heaviest I've had on so far -- and finally the flying boots. A Thales helmet was then lowered onto my head, and the mask strapped on. Check.

    Next, was a half-hour briefing by Sébastien on the Rafale's cockpit. Not the most refined I've seen, but emphatically functional and strangely appealing -- the one I would fly in looked like something that had just been fighting. Like the F-16 Block 60 that I did a sortie in two years ago, the Rafale cockpit has a right-hand sidestick, though with full "play", rather than the near-rigid one in the Super Viper. This was good. Because while the idea of a sidestick appealed greatly to me when I flew the F-16 in 2009, I could never seriously get used to the rigidity.

    Flipping through a laminated spiral-bound booklet with tight-shot photographs of various Rafale cockpit elements, Sebastien showed me where the emergency systems where, and how to operate the head-level display. After a quick run-through of the eject/egress procedures (as always, said in the most matter-of-fact tone -- "please don't eject yourself unless I say EJECT-EJECT-EJECT or if you're sure I'm dead and the plane is falling"). Next, I had a brief chat with a small group of Armée de l'Air pilots fresh from a deployment in Afghanistan who were eager to know if I'd done any fighter sorties before. When I told them about the four previous ones, one of them, Plu Vinage, said, "You will forget all of them tomorrow." Let's see, I thought, as I walked out of the salubrious air-conditioned environs of the Dassault chalet and into the blinding afternoon Yelahanka sun.

    Despite a promise to myself that I wouldn't have a late night before the day of my flight, I ended up turning the lights out at 4.30AM. It was a short night.

    At 3PM on Feb 10, I arrived at the Dassault chalet as agreed for my pre-flight procedures. I got into my flight suit, after which Sébastien and I were taken to the Rafale pavillion in one of the halls. There, we spent the next twenty minutes going over what we'd be doing during our 45-minute flight. It was a fabulous checklist of items. We were about to do pretty much everything except fire weapons. By 4PM, we left the pavillion and went to the Rafale fight ops centre right next to the flightline. A typical IAF utility room, this one was strewn with flying gear -- overalls, helmets, boots, name-patches, G-suits, torso harnesses, sunglasses, clip-pads with flight log scrawls and a group of Armée de l'Air pilots and personnel. Plu Vinage was there, and he got me into the rest of my kit. As I left the room with Sébastien, Vinage looked at me, his face glistening with sweat, and said, "Remember what I told you yesterday."

    Sébastien and I went out to the aircraft and two personnel helped me strap into the second cockpit. All pre-flight systems checks went through fine, and at about 4.50, Sébastien lowered the canopy, as I felt the pressure equalize making my ears pop. But there was a problem. The cockpit lady informed us that our oxygen supply systems were not cleared. Sébastien opened the canopy, conferred with his flightline personnel, who quickly sorted out the snag, and lowered the canopy again. It was time to power on.

    The two Snecma M88s began with a low growl, reaching a gothic roar. The aircraft shuddered under its restraints. These were some serious turbofans. Powering to ground, we waited until we were cleared to taxi out to the runway.

    I am in no way technically equipped to attest to a fighter's capabilities, and am truly in awe of those who can, but I must say this. However else the MMRCA contenders compare, after four take-offs in fighters, the Rafale's was undoubtedly the most thunderingly powerful one. Lined up and ready, at 1711HRS, Sébastien gunned to mil power and then full reheat as the twin M88s sent the Armée de l'Air Rafale B (No. 104 HD) hurtling down the runway and into the air and then quickly into a steep 70-degree climb followed a second later by a quick roll to starboard. Pitching up further into a vertical climb, the aircraft was then put on its head before a quick level out to zoom out to the sector we'd been asked to get into. I've never experienced a more dramatic take-off routine.

    We cruised for a while, climbing to over 16,000 feet. To both my sides, I could see the aircraft's canard foreplanes swivel and twitch with every bit of input. At 19,000 feet, Sébastien asked me to take the stick. I did the first thing I always do when given the stick -- two hard rolls, the stuff that sends your blood sloshing around your body. With all that magnificent power behind it, the Rafale's handling qualities at high speed were superb. As Sébastien communicated with the tower to get a fix on which sector we were cleared to fly in, I put the fighter into some hard turns, getting some serious kicks out of how beautifully responsive this heavy jet was.

    Yelahanka traffic control crackled in, asking us to head to Sector 3, and away from Sector 2. We broke right, descended and entered a wide open scrubland with gentle hillocks dotted with tall white windmills. "That is pretty," came a heavily accented voice from the front cockpit. It truly was. We dived out and took her low, 700-feet low, Sébastien demonstrating the auto-piloted terrain following mode, as the aircraft smoothly rose and descended, describing the surface of what we were flying over. Perfect for head-level/down work. It was time for some loops. As we pulled up and fed the Snecmas some fuel, the plane shuddered into a blistering climb, completing a perfect loop -- and giving non-fighter pilots such as myself the single most exhilirating view. That of the earth gliding back into view, and the sky slipping away. As the Gs pile up during the climb, and you feel your suit expand to keep your blood equitably distributed, the closing of the loop is as surreal as it gets. I did two loops, the second one with throttle control. "Excellent, perfect," called Sébastien.

    Next, Sébastien demonstrated the very nifty Thales nose mounted infrared/TV search and track system. We scoped several aircraft in the area, including the Saab 2000, an An-32 and a couple of light aircraft from the show. We undertook a Fox-3 demo as Sébastien "unleashed" an MBDA MICA from a port hardpoint at an aircraft we'd been tracking. "He's dead," he sniggered. We scoped some territory for an air to ground demonstration, and swooped low to get a visual. With some quick head-level work, Sébastien chose five features. We then proceeded to rain hell on them with tri-hardpoint Sagem AASMs. "We do everything in flight. You can draw full plans in the cockpit," he said, while I imagined the AASMs screaming down at some unsuspecting knoll near the Andhra Pradesh border. The mission computer, I was later told, is built to assume that every mission is a scramble. Get off the ground first. Decide in the air.

    Just about the time our Rafale was getting ready for some G, something deeply significant was being announced across the world in the fighter jet's homeland. Thales was busy announcing that the AESA variant of the Rafale's RBE2 radar had been validated in 2010 tests, and that the new radar met all operational requirements and specifications of the French Air Force. Rafales with the new AESA radar, part of Tranche 4, would be ready for delivery by 2013, the French press was informed. And yet, Dassault made no noise about it at Aero India. Not a word. No press statement. To them, as long as the right people knew, it didn't matter. That's Dassault apparently. That's why you don't hear very much about or from them, which can be pretty unsettling for a journalist. I keep trying to think what would have happened if one of the American jets met such a milestone during the air show. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I can tell you that all the while I was in that cockpit, I had to tell myself this -- a flight in a Rafale -- was really happening.

    About 20 minutes into our sortie, it was time for some real G. I had control, and was instructed to take her up to 16,000 feet, which I did with my game face on. Almost exactly two years before, I'd pulled 9G during a sortie in a leased UAE Air Force F-16 Desert Falcon at Yelahanka. I was ready for another rush. Sébastien, first slowly and then with force, pushed the jet into a steep dive. We plunged, and gunned to mil power, watching the ground come up at us. Then, Sébastien pulled up hard and engaged reheat, putting us both in a 9G environment for a couple of seconds, before it tapered. The grey squares mixing with your vision, like blood in water, and then receding as the aircraft levelled off. It was brutal. Brutally good. Sébastien asked me if I was okay. I was fine, breathing hard. I unhitched my mask to gulp some cockpit air. That was brutal. I felt my stomach muscles loosen slowly. Fighter pilots like Sébastien do this for whole seconds. They truly are made of something else.

    We'd run out of time and had to head back. But what happened next, I was totally unprepared for. As we cruised low over the Yelahanka strip, Sébastien banked super-hard right, pulled up, engaged full reheat and tore us away. The grey came like a small wave, and then receded quickly. Blood and water.

    We came around for approach and touched down, after 46 minutes in the air.
    From http://livefist.blogspot.com/ - Feb, 14


    Damned, Shiv, lucky you ;)

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    FX-2, Dassault conference on technology transfer

    From Agence France Press
    Dassault is decided to make, for Brazil, "the best transfer of technology offer" has declared Jean-Marc Merialdo, director of the Brazilian officice of the French company.

    The Rafale fighter jet is competing against the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Saab Gripen NG for a contract estimated between 4 and $7 billions.

    "Although we have remained discrete for strategic reasons, we have never stop working" Mirialdo said to the AFP. Wenesday, the Dassault senor executive was directed a seminar opened to French and Brazilian companies at Sao Jose dos Campos in the state of Sao Paulo, home of Embraer.

    "We organized this seminar in the framework of our transfer of technology proposals. it was a complete success. There were 50 French from 11 companies (Dassault, Thales, Safran and 8 partners of the Rafale group) and 140 Brazilians from 50 local companies among which, Embraer"

    10 new partnership agreements have been signed during this day :  "From some Rafale component manufacturing to the development of softwares for particular Rafale functions"

    "We reach our objective to open and spread our partnerships with new companies" have declared the Dassault representative in Brazil.

    Concerning the recent press releases [Ed. initiated by Reuters] stating that the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff would have say her preference for the Boeing fighter, Merialdo notes that "those rumors have been denied by the Defense Minister Nelson Jobim" and add "what I do know, is that we are decided to make, in Brazil, the best proposal as far as transfer of technology is concerned".

    source : AFP / LeMatin

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Aero India 2011, Indian Parliament member, Naveen Jindal, flies in the Rafale

    One days after the journalist Shiv Aroor, indian parliament member and industrialist, Naveen Jindal also flew the Rafale during 40 min.
    Jindal is the vice chairman of Jindal Steel and power an already flew in the F-16 anf F/A-18 fighter jets before. Therefore, he was quite at ease during his ride on the Rafale.

    It seems that Dassault is pushing hard the Rafale at the show with all those VIP flights. Boeing and Lockeed are doing the same : the Chaiman of the Tata group and cosmonaut Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma were invided for a tour in the super Hornet, while Abhinav Bindra, Indian Olympic ace shooter champion was flying in the F-16I Super Viper (UAE F-16E bk60)

    All this agitation could be a clue that the contest is actually going to end soon. May be we can expect an announcement at le Bourget Air show in  June ?

    sources:
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com - Naveen Jindal achieves new heights with French Rafale
    http://www.indiavision.com - Naveen Jindal flies French Rafael at Bangalore's Aero India show

    Meanwile, French Rafale pilots are commenting on the last June Garuda encounter between the Rafale and the Indian Su-30 MKI

    [...] (Ed. Rafale pilot) Vinage said some of his best moments in flying were during the Indo-French exercises. "We went in with the Rafale and IAF came in with the Su-30. That's when we got a good look at the aircraft. The first thought that came to my mind was power -- Su-30 is about power and being powerful. But for the dogfight, I'd go for the Rafale."[...]

    Agapanthe 2010, French Navy Video

    In french, but some very interesting Rafale images from the cockpit (carrier landing and take off, inflight refueling)



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    French Air Force General at Aero india

    General Naik and Palomeros - Aero India 2011
    Source : http://www.defense.gouv.fr/

    The General palomeros, commander of the French Air Force, has met his Indian counterpart, the General Naik at the Yelahanka Air Base during Aero India 2011.
    From the French General point of View, Aero India is seen as an actual training deployment for his men as well as a live demonstration of the capabilities of the Rafale and the professionalism of the French Air Force crews. Palomeros especially point out the fact that the Rafale only needs a small staff to be maintained far away from its home base.


    The meeting was the occasion to talk about 3 main subjects :
    • The French-Indian Air Forces cooperation and the next Garuda exercice that should take place at the end of 2012 or in early 2013.
    • The modernization of the IAF Mirage 2000 fleet which will be brought to the dash 5 standard
    • They also discussed about the ongoing MMRCA contest but won't leak any information about it as the subject is very sensitive right now. 

      French Air Force Rafale team - Aero india 2011

      Visit of French Defense minister at the Mont de Marsan Air base

      Main points demonstrated to the Minister :
      • Damocles / Rover system
      • Reco-NG pod
      • Take off on alert of a Rafale

      Visite du Ministre de la Défense à Mont-de-Marsan
      envoyé par armee-de-l_air. - L'info internationale vidéo.

      Focus on Stanak Shot Rafale page

      ©Stephane Pichard - Stanak Shot
      Stanak Shot is an aircraft photography site maintained by Stephane Pichard. And this is a page to bookmark for all Rafale lover !

      Aero India 2011 Rafale display video

      Rafale Pictures of the day

      February 4th, The Damocles LDP is presented to the French Defense Minister Alain Juppé during his visit to the CEAM

      Source : http://www.defense.gouv.fr/
      Rafale display pilot captain Ruet performs is preflight simulation at Aero India 2011

      Source : http://www.defense.gouv.fr/ 

      Thursday, February 10, 2011

      Aero india 2011, Indian journalist flies the Rafale

      Dassault aviation has offered a 46 min Rafale flight to the Indan journalist Shiv Aroor, famous for his well known "Livefist" blog.

      Shiv should post his full report on this flight tonight, so stay tuned.
      As he had the chance to fly on the Gripen in 2009, he might have some interesting insight on both fighters to share.

      Reco-NG AEREOS pod insight

      From http://www.defpro.com/daily/details/750

      The 21st century reconnaissance team
      08:32 GMT, February 10, 2011 The AREOS Reco NG pod, an integral part of the F3 standard for Rafale fighters, brings France into the world of all-digital reconnaissance. As a veritable “omnirole” fighter, the Rafale has already replaced several types of warplanes in the French air force and navy. This trend is set to continue in the coming years with the retirement of France’s last Mirage F-1 fighters, the carrier-borne modernized Super Etendard and the oldest members of the Mirage 2000 fleet. The Rafale F3 will therefore take over the reconnaissance role, for which it deploys a dedicated system, the AREOS Reco NG pod developed by Thales.

      The French air force has already ordered a dozen pods, and the French navy another eight. Several series of deck landing and catapult launch tests have validated the pod’s use on aircraft carriers.

      TACTICAL AND STRATEGIC

      The AREOS Reco NG pod is 4.6 meters long (15 ft.) and weighs 1,100 kg (2,420 lb), making it compatible with the Rafale, as well as the Mirage 2000 if needed. Up front on the pod, the HA/MA (high altitude/medium altitude) optical sensor supports photography at medium range, or even long-range at standoff distance. The AREOS Reco NG offers an identification range of several tens of kilometres – two to three times the range of the Presto pod currently deployed on Mirage F1CR aircraft in Afghanistan.

      Located aft in the AREOS pod, the low-altitude sensor supports horizon to horizon photography at an altitude of only 60 meters (200 ft) and very high speeds. The pod operates automatically, whether working in intermittent, zone coverage or terrain-following mode, and always knows its exact position in space, so that it can control the pointing of its optical sensors in both pitch and roll.

      Its control capability is based on data transmitted by its own inertial reference system, correlated with data from the nav-attack system on the aircraft itself. As soon as the shots are taken, they are automatically overlaid on a digital elevation model, geo-referenced and assembled to provide a complete mosaic of the target.

      The images are then stored on a hard disk in the pod. They can be transmitted to a ground image receiving and processing station in real time, via a high-speed microwave link.

      The recce pod can also operate in video mode by using successive images, and by measuring the displacement of a moving object from one image to another, it can estimate its speed.

      Battlefield trials based on a hundred test flights enabled the CEAM military aircraft test center to validate the operation of the sensors and their tactical use in conjunction with the Rafale*.

      Test flights covered the full range of scenarios, from conventional to unusual, including tests of opportunity targets involving aircraft being reassigned in the middle of their sortie, through the L16 datalink.

      “The pod is very easy to operate,” emphasizes Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Philippe Scherer, the officer in charge of the AREOS Reco NG program at CEAM. “The crew sees a pointer on their digital map with a mission request. All they have to do is indicate that they accept the mission and slave the pod to the pointer. It’s fast, easy, and there’s no risk of a misunderstanding, since no radio communications are involved.”

      UNRIVALED

      The teams at CEAM who subjected the Rafale-AREOS Reco NG duo to the toughest tests they could think of are very pleased. “The daytime images are excellent,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Scherer. “Our objectives for night imaging, especially long-range infrared shots, were just as ambitious. The initial results are encouraging, but we’re now waiting for new adjustments to further boost performance.”

      With this dual capacity, tactical and long-range, day and night, the Rafale F3/AREOS Reco NG duo is unrivaled worldwide. The first crews from operational units were trained at CEAM this summer. Several weeks later, the system reached its initial operating limit for appropriate missions, for example in foreign theaters of operation. Reflecting this capability, the pod is now deployed on the Charlesde-Gaulle aircraft carrier. By the end of the year, it will open its operating envelope to include terrain following during penetration flights, which is nearly as complex as a nuclear mission.

      When this capability is added, the pod will officially be in service. “We’re eagerly awaiting the advent of this pod, since it’s a vital part of the Rafale F3,” concludes Lieutenant-Colonel Scherer.

      ----
      * Air force and naval versions of the Rafale, both to the F3 standard.

      More MMRCA rumors

      The Indian Blog Broadswords, report talks with Indian Air Force officers during Aero india 2011
      http://ajaishukla.blogspot.com/

      According to them :

      • Rafale and Typhoon would lead the contest
      • Gripen would lag behind due to an AESA radar not mature enough
      • The Mig-35 and F/A-18E would be out due to relatively poor performances during the evaluation.
      • The F-16 would be out due to to the fact it is operated by Pakistan and  has little groth potential for the future (Lockeed martin is said to push for the F-35)

      “The MMRCA contest is now between the Eurofighter and the Rafale,” says an IAF officer associated with the flight evaluation. “It will boil down to price. But if the MoD accepts a smaller fighter, with a radar that has some way to go, the economically-priced Gripen could be the dark horse that wins.

      Thales AESA RBE-2 modules pattern

      The RBE-2 AA picture released yesterday by Thales has raised a polemic all around the web. Indeed, the number of modules of the presented antenna is exacly 838, which is  almost 20% less than the usually advertised "1000 modules" for this radar.
      However it is not known if the picture shows the actual radar. It could be an earlier prototype or a dummy. One thing is sure, though: it is exactly the same antenna (same pattern) as the one shown in the previous pictures of the RBE-2 AA.

      The graph on the left is illustrating the asymmetrical pattern of the modules and the number of modules on each of the 36 columns of the antenna.

      Also read : Thales delivers first AESA radar

      Thales AESA RBE2 radar validated on Rafale

      Raw press release from Thales :

      Thales has announced that the production model AESA RBE2 radar with active electronically scanned array antenna has been validated on the Rafale omnirole combat aircraft. Following a comprehensive programme of flight tests conducted between September and December 2010 with the AESA RBE2 on the Rafale, Dassault Aviation confirmed that all aspects of the radar’s performance comply with the technical specifications of the ‘Roadmap’ contract, awarded by the French defence procurement agency (DGA).

      The success of this test campaign is a further endorsement of Thales’s European leadership in airborne radar.

      This latest major milestone confirms the AESA RBE2 radar’s high level of maturity. The AESA RBE2 with active array will give the Rafale a number of key advantages:
      - Extended range for compatibility with the latest generation long range missiles and ability to detect low-signature targets
      - Higher module reliability for reduced cost of ownership (no maintenance required on the active array for 10 years)
      - Extended waveform agility, making it possible to acquire submetric synthetic aperture (SAR) imagery while increasing the radar’s resistance to jamming

      With the AESA RBE2’s performance now validated, in line with the contract schedule, Thales will begin series production of equipment for installation on the aircraft under Tranche 4 of the Rafale programme. The Tranche 4 aircraft were ordered by the DGA in 2009 and will be delivered by Dassault Aviation to the French Air Force from 2013.

      The Rafale will then become the only European combat aircraft to benefit from the operational advantages of AESA radar technology. The Rafale’s undisputed superiority is recognised around the world and is a key differentiator in today’s highly competitive markets."

      Wednesday, February 9, 2011

      Rafale beaten by the Super Hornet in Brazil ?

      F-18 E on final approach on the Roosevelt - © US navy Jul. 2008
      The last news from Brazil are not good. According to Reuters, Dilma Rousseff would have said that the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet is the best choice for Brazil :

      Feb 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has told visitors she believes Boeing's (BA.N) F-18 is the best jet among three finalists in a multi-billion dollar Air Force fighter tender, but she is still pressing for better terms on the issue of technology transfers, sources said.

      Rousseff raised the issue of the jet tender in a meeting on Monday in Brasilia with visiting U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, sources with knowledge of the conversation told Reuters.
      Rousseff told Geithner she remains concerned about the transfers of proprietary technology that Brazil wants to help develop its own defense industry as part of any deal. She is seeking both improved transfer terms and further guarantees from Boeing and the U.S. government, the sources said.


      Edit 02/10 : France still confident on Brazil Rafale deal :


      Feb 9 (Reuters) - France is still confident about its chances of securing a sale of Rafale fighter jets to Brazil, government spokesman Francois Baroin said on Wednesday, even though Brazil has said it is eyeing Boeing (BA.N) jets.
      "We are confident on the outcome of this contest," Baroin told reporters, asked about the chances of France's Dassault Aviation AVMC.PA landing a long-awaited first export order. (Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Editing by Peter Graff)

       

      Rafale pictures of the day

      More training with the Damocles pod. Picture by Jagueli, Feb. 2011, Delta Reflex

      Rafale B at Aero india 2011. Picture by Livefist , Feb. 8th 2011

      Sunday, February 6, 2011

      Aviation week editor, Robert wall, analysis on the Indian MMRCA fighter market

      Aero India 2011, the last Rafale demo of "Rut"

      It is finally the French Air Force instead of the French Navy which will showcase the Rafale at Aero India 2011. The first picture of static display of the fair shows 2 Rafale (one B and one unidentified air version)
      The Rafale flight demonstration will be performed, for the last time, by Captain Cedric "Rût" Ruet who was the first official Rafale Solo display pilot since 2009.
      Captain Ruet is a fighter pilot since 1997 and has logged some 4000 flight hours on Alpha jet, Mirage 2000N and Rafale. He also flew 18 war missions in Afghanistan on the Rafale.

      After Aero India, he will be replaced by Captain Michael Brocard, whose he is now the coach. 


      Source : http://www.defense.gouv.fr/

      Friday, February 4, 2011

      Brazil plans to select a new Navy fighter by 2013

      Brazil defense Minister Nelson Jobim has confirmed that the winner of the FX-2 contest will also be selected for the Brazilian Navy which should order 24 new fighters in 2013.
      This squadron will be the first step of the renewal of the Brazilian navy aviation and should be followes by the acquisition of a 60,000 t. aircraft carrier due to enter service between 2027 and 2031.

      Source : DefesaNet (Google translation)
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      As explained in this article, the French ship builder DCSN is already promoting one of its PA2 designs for this project. The only serious contender to the French ship would be the British CVF whose second unit, the prince of Wales, could be sold by the MoD to Brazil

      Anyway the fact that the 24 navy fighters will be of the same type as their Air Force counterparts, probably weaken the Saab offer due to the fact that the Gripen-N is still on the drawing board, leaving Dassault and Boeing alone for the final round of FX-2.

      Meanwhile Luiz Marinho, the Mayor of San Bernado and a key personality for the Tranfer of technology part of  the FX-2 project, is visiting the Dassault and Thales facilities in France (after a trip in Sweden last November).

      Also read

      FX-2 : Dassault settles transfer of.technology

      Wednesday, February 2, 2011

      Tiger Meet 2008

      Rafale M15 - Landivisiau 2008 - ©hottail.nl
      A nice set of pictures on hottail.net taken at landivisiau Naval base during the NATO Tiger Meet 2008
      http://www.hottail.nl - Rafale M
      http://www.hottail.nl - Rafale B/C

      Onboard the Charles de Gaulles

      A french documentary about the first stage of the Agapanthe 2010 mission. It shows the everyday life of the sailors working on the French Aircraft carrier.

      Probably the first public video footage of the Rafale M taking off and landing with the reco NG pod.

      http://documentaires.france5.fr/

      Rafale could be offered to the Bulgarian Air Force

      From http://paper.standartnews.com

      Bulgaria will spend a billion levs for fighter planes.
      The Ministry of Defence launched the procedures for the most awaited for tender in the Army, the Standart learnt. The Ministry sent inquiries to the manufacturers of F -16 (Lockheed Martin), F-18 (Boeing), Gripen (SAAB). Eurofighter (EADS) and Rafale (Dassault). The inquiries have been made via diplomatic channels and namely the assistance of the ambassadors of the USA, Sweden, Germany and France to Bulgaria, sources from the Ministry reported.  The Russian producers have not been contacted despite the readiness Mig-39 (Ed. Mig-29 / Mig-35 ? ) manufacturers expressed to take part in the tender.
      Bulgaria seeks to buy eight fighters, two of them training ones. The framework contract option provides an opportunity for the delivery of eight other aircrafts at a later stage.
      The aircraft may be second-hand. 
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      As the Bulgarian govenrnment has been delaying this purchase for years due to lack of funds they will most probably go for the cheapest bid (second hand F-16 or Gripen)