Tuesday, December 25, 2012

In the press : Latin aero N°4

Latin Aero N°4  is reviewing the latest improvement of the Rafale F3O-4T :

AESA radar
DDM-NG (new generation missile detector)
Meteor miisile
AM-39 bl2 mod2 missile

Laser version of AASM passed its last qualification test

PR Release from Safran/Sagen :

On December 12, 2012, French defense procurement agency DGA successfully carried out the last qualification firing test of the AASM modular air-to-ground missile developed and produced by Sagem (Safran), in its laser terminal guidance version (NATO designation: SBU-54 Hammer).

The success of this firing test culminates the qualification phase of the laser version, allowing Sagem to start delivery of the first production-standard AASM Laser weapons to the French air force and navy, for operational deployment in 2013.

The last firing test was carried out at the DGA’s missile range in Biscarrosse, using a Rafale fighter operated by the DGA’s Flight Test department at the Cazaux air base.

The target was an all-terrain vehicle. Remotely piloted, it was illuminated by the aircraft’s Damocles pod during the final seconds of the AASM’s flight. The vehicle was traveling at different speed, reaching 50 km/h at the time of impact, when it was more than 15 km from the Rafale. The weapon was launched from the aircraft at an extreme off-axis angle of 90° and hit the target at an oblique angle.

Using its powerful algorithms for detection and flightpath slaving to the laser point, plus its excellent agility, the AASM hit the target with an accuracy of less than a meter. This performance qualified the complete laser firing system under typical conditions, with the target illumination being carried out by the aircraft firing the weapon.

This new GPS/inertial/laser version further expands the AASM family, which already counts two other versions qualified on Rafale: GPS/inertial and GPS/inertial/infrared. It features a laser seeker in place of the infrared imager on the latter version, and also has tracking algorithms which are activated during the terminal phase.

The AASM SBU-54 Hammer marks an operational breakthrough in relation to current precision air-to-ground weapons. It is capable of engaging moving land targets, or high-speed agile marine targets, with accuracy to within a meter1, especially during opportunity strikes, as proven during recent conflicts.


Video, 11F anniversary clip

Monday, December 10, 2012

Video, Vishnu Som flies the Rafale Part II

This is the second part of the the Indian TV show "Higher, bigger, faster" about the Rafale.

Vishnu visits the base of Saint Dizier and the 3D design facility in Paris.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Video, Vishnu Som flies the Rafale

This is the complete video of the Indian TV show "Higher, bigger, faster" dedicated to the Rafale. The Indian journalist Vishnu Som, had the opportunity to fly the Rafale at the Istres Air base. During the flight which last more than 1 hour, he was demonstrated the omnirole capability of the aircraft, performing laser guided and gps simulated A2G strikes, A2A interception as well as very low altitude maneuvering in fully automated  terrain following mode.

Flying the Dassault Rafale

Stay tune for the next episode (Rafale over Libya)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

nEUROn first Flight

The UCAV demonstrator nEUROn made its mainden flight this saturday, 1st December. Developped by 6 European countries (France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweeden and Switzerland) the project was initiated in 2003 by France in order to maintain and expend the R&D capabilities of the French military aerospace industries regarding stealth and fully autonomous flight of a combat aircraft.

Lead by Dassault aviation, responsible for the project management, final integration and stealth features, the European partners were assigned tasks corresponding to their domain of expertise :
The main fuselage was made by Saab, the wings by EADS casa, the rear fuselage and engine exhaust by HAI, the weapon bay by Alenia and the weapon system interface by Ruag.

Today's flight, which lasted 25 min, was the first of a serie of 80 that will take place in France, Sweeden and Italy during the next 2 years.

The chase plane which followed the nEUROn during its first flight was a Rafale B that can be breefly seen on that video

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Video, gun training in Corsica

Very interesting video showing the Provence and Normandie Niemen Rafale preparing for gun training at the Solenzara Air Base in September 2012.

Friday, November 16, 2012

In the Press, Air&Cosmos special Rafale

Air&Cosmos has just released a special issue entirely dedicated to the Rafale. 100+ pages about the aircraft : Libya campain, French squadrons, Export oportunities, future developments....

Concerning the last topic, Air&cosmos is publishing an exclusive cgi picture of a Rafale carrying stealth weapon cocoons. (thx to Vuia for the pict.:) )

Friday, November 9, 2012

India : integration of "Brahmos Mini"

Interesting news from the site Navy Recognition.com :

The company Brahmos Aerospace is working on a resized Brahmos missile, named Brahmos Mini, and plans live tests in two years.

Brahmos stand at Indo Defence/Indo Marine 2012 - © Navy Recognition.com

Rafale, the winner of MMRCA, may become one of the two aircraft using this missile in India.

The website says :

 The company's first focus will be the integration of the future Brahmos mini on future Indian platforms such as the Rafale (winner of MMRCA) and Mig-29K of Indian navy.
While no talks have occured yet between Brahmos Aerospace and Dassault Aviation they plan to start contacts once the first missile tests have occured.

Regarding weapon loads, the Indian-Russian Joint Venture believes that after the required development and testing, both Mig-29K and Rafale should be able to carry between 1 and 3 Brahmos Mini.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Damocles XF dropped, PDL NG for 2018

Air & Cosmos N°2305 gave us two pages about the future of designation pods for Rafale.

First of all, Damocles XF (and improved Damocles with a TV channel) is dropped.

Then, it's all about the PDL NG (Pod de Désignation Laser Nouvelle Génération = New Generation Laser Designation Pod).

We learn that France will, alone, invest € 450 millions for 45 pods which will equip both Mirage 2000D and Rafale.
While Damocles only used a 320x240 IR sensor, the PDL NG will use a  640x520 matrix. This resolution will be doubled by a micro-scanning technique, a solution preferred to a 1024 pixels wide matrix.
Of course, this IR sensor will be complemented by a TV channel for daylight operations and identification of very small targets (something which lacked with the Damocles too).

Another feature will be an improved geolocalization using GPS + INS (from the airplane) for near-metric accuracy.  Damocles already proposed such a function, but not as accurate as the AASM.

The RCS (radar cross section) of the pod will be reduced.

Last but not least, the PDL NG will be carrier compatible.

Qatar set to replace its Mirage 2000-5 with Rafale ?

We know for a while that Qatar is interested in buying new fighters to replace its Mirage 2000-5 delivered in 1997.

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

According to La Tribune today, Rafale would be well positionned if required, because :
  • Qatar has given its word to replace its Mirage with Rafale ;
  • Rafale has been very successful during the hot weather trials (50°C) conducted earlier (with live AASM firing and Qatar pilots in the back seat), contrary to F-15 and F-18.

The problem is "when ?" While some sources indicated that Qatar could select  a type before the end of the year, some others thinks that Qatar doesn't need to replace the Mirage right now. A situation which looks similar to the UAE's.

Of course, there are two other types that Qatar will evaluate before : Eurofighter Typhoon and F-16b50/52.
Jon Lake told us in April that the evaluation of Typhoon had been cancelled in April 2011 (lybian operations), so, they still have to do it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Future Spectra

In a previous issue (n°2329 -5th october), A&C reveals the forthcoming introduction of GaN on a new Spectra prototype in 2014.


Why now ? Next year, a new production line should be qualified by UMS for GaN semi conductors working in X-band. Up to now, they only produced S-band components.

The current Spectra (and the coming RBE-2 AA) uses GaAs components, which are already pushed to their upper limit. Compared with this, GaN should be 2 to 5 times more powerful, and also works in wider bandwidth, and better efficiency.

Because the production will progressively improve with time, the first application for Rafale will be the development of a new Spectra prototype in 2014 (PEA Incas).

And, later, maybe, new conformal arrays for the radar...

Future Rafale

Air & Cosmos revealed three days ago the new roadmap for the next software update of Rafale.

This will be standard F3-R and is planned for 2018 with :
  • Meteor ;
  • PDL-NG targeting pod (a replacement for Damocles) ;
  • IFF Mode 5/S ;
  • improved Link16 ;
  • Improved SPECTRA ;
  • Improved capabilities for RECO-NG pod (inspired by the intervention in Lybia) ;
  • Improved air-to-ground fire control (inspired by the intervention in Lybia).
 All the fleet will be retrofitted.

2nd half of October news

October 2012 has been a nice month in the Rafale life.

Firstly, the C137 AESA has been delivered and has started operational experimentation.

Secondly, Rafale started experimenting the Meteor. Only separation trials for now. France had ordered 200 Meteor in December 2010, and will introduce it in operational service in 2018.
All pictures provided by DGA

 Reminder : in 2005, Rafale already demonstrated its capability to take off and land on its carrier while bringing the Meteor.

Thirdly, we learnt that the first Indian airbase (thanks to the New Indian Express) to be equipped with Rafale will be the Alamba AFB, currently using Jaguar and MiG-21.

The last point of this post is less positive though : our current MoD Le Drian, back from UAE indicated that the Rafale would have to wait. No need to compromise the UAE-France relation with this contract. Whole story here : Le Parisien.
Note that UAE isn't in a hurry to replace the already very good Mirage 2000-9.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

AESA experimentation news

Olivier Fourt, from RFI, has interviewed the team which will conduct experimentations in Mont-de-Marsan.

The interview reveals that the C137 will not keep its array : it will be unplugged to equip a two seater.

Interesting points (though only little is really new) :
  • range doubled (to about 200 km), compatible with the Meteor ;
  • submetric SAR imagery ;
  • eased maintainability ;
  • independent modules allow to assign them to different tasks ;
  • softwares automatically recognize the array which is totally plug-and-play ;
  • only 5 to 6 hours to unplug and re-plug the AESA array on another Rafale (even a PESA) ;
  • a few AESA per squadron may be enough, provided we use them for air superiority for example (AESA flying ahead, PESA behind...).

PS : enjoy the beautiful pictures by A. Février here.

Monday, October 8, 2012

IAF 80th anniversary...

...how is it related to Rafale ?

Well, easy answer : Rafale International have published their wishes in Indian newspapers :

Congratulations to one of the world's widely respected air force on its 80th year

This ad reminds us that India has been flying fighters designed by French (at least partially) for 60 years, starting with the Toofani (Ouragan), Mytere IV,  Alizé, Jaguar and Mirage 2000.

 Interestingly, the picture shows a Rafale with four Meteor.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First European production AESA fighter delivered

Today, October the 2nd of 2012, Dassault has delivered the Rafale C137 to the DGA. The aircraft should arrive in Mont-de-Marsan (CEAM) soon.

The C137 is the first production Rafale equipped with a production RBE-2 AA (AESA). It is also the first of a kind in Europe. It is also equipped with the brand new FSO and the new DDM-NG.

This is the result of a more than 10 years sustained R&D efforts. The aircraft should undergo an 18 months period of tests and experimentations (discovery of new possibilities) before entering operational service.

Source : DSI Presse

edit, video of the C137 rool out :

Thursday, September 20, 2012

In The press, Air & Cosmos article about Military engines

Picture credit Reno62
In its last issue published on Friday september 14th, Air & Cosmos revealed several interresting facts about the Rafale new M88-4E in a special article about military engines.

  • 16 M88-4E have been delivered so far
  • 20% of the engine is modified compared to the previous version (M88-2E4)
  • Improved NATO Tactical Air Cycle (number of actions on the throttle) : up to 4000 cycles instead of 2500c previoulsy.
  • Lifespan of  maintenance intensive parts increased by 60%
  • All M88 engines delivered so far could be upgraded to -4E standard within 4-5 years
  • New evolutions planed on the high pressure turbine (results of the Theo program) to increase the engine thrust (for 2015)
  • The assembly of a M88 takes 36 days
  • 300 M88 delivered to the French Air Force and Navy
  • Talks on the Kaveri using High pressure part of the M88 still going on.
  • Technology transfers to the Indian Industry in preparation to allow india to produce the M88 engine
Source : Air&Cosmos 2326

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rafale pictures of the day

High res pictures of the Rafale/Typhoon flight in Scotland last week

Senior Officers in the Royal Air Force and French Air Force traded places on 14 September to fly in Typhoon and Rafale fighter jets in a demonstration of the strong ties which exist between the two air arms. 
source : hmarmedforces.tumblr.com

Rafale C137, first serial production Rafale with AESA Radar

The first serial production Rafale to be delivered with the RBE-2 AESA radar is running its final tests at Dassault aviation Merignac facility. The aircraft is expected at the CEAM (French Air Force technical evaluation center) at the end of September for a 18 months trial period.

The aircraft is also fitted with the new generation IIR missile warning system DDM-NG (the half sphere at the top of the tail fin) and probably the OSF-IT.
Pictures credit : Frenchy on Pics-Aeronef

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rafale pictures of the day

The 70 years of the Normandie Niemen squadron comemorative camo from above
More picture on www.defense.gouv.fr
And a superb reportage on FoxAlpha by Franck Cabrol

╕Franck Cabrol

Rafale and Typhoon pilots switching planes

As announced a few weeks ago, a French Air Force Rafale pilot and a RAF Typhoon pilot are about to exchange their fighter jet.

Captain Marc-Antoine Gerard who is flying the Rafale since 2008 will therefore be integrated in an RAF Typhoon squadron while lieutenant Matt Johnstone will spend 2 years at the Normandie Niemen squadron (Mont de Marsan Air Base).

This exchange project was formalized last September 14th by a 90 min demonstration flight of the 2 jets over Scotland with  RAF Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha and the Commander of the French Air Force Command, Lieutenant General Guillaume Gelée on board.

[...]During the 90 minute flight the pair of aircraft flew at low and medium-level in Western Scotland to demonstrate handling characteristics before splitting to show the officers the various systems on each type of aircraft.[...]

Sources : RAF, Air&Cosmos

In the meantime, defense journalist Jean Marc Tanguy indicates on his blog that some typhoon will come to the Saint Dizier Air Base in October in order to develop new operational tactics for joint Typhoon/Rafale operations.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rafale new camo

It's nearly Wednesday. And what will happen on the 14th of September 2012 ?

The Normandie-Niémen will celebrate its 70th anniversary. For this occasion, one Rafale (118-IX) has been decorated.

Enjoy this very beautiful picture by Philippe Chaillet  :

There are many hommages on this scheme :

The Red-White-Blue painting on the nose and the fin, the Cross of Lorraine and the white arrow on each side are similar to the good old Yak-3 :

The grey and green camo looks like the one the Mirage F1 used to wear, while the big red star was also starred on this Mirage F1 in 2009, when the squadron was halted :

Sunday, September 9, 2012

MMRCA, Contract for the 126 Rafale to be signed within 2 months ?

After a month of rumors stating that the Rafale deal in India was in very bad shape, a senior Indian Air Force official is denying that the exclusive negociations with Dassault could be canceled. Furthermore, he said that the contract could be signed within 1 or 2 months :

The Economic Times
[...] Bangalore, Sept 8 (PTI): India plans to sign the USD 11 billion MMRCA(Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) deal with French Rafale by the end of this month-end or next month, a senior Indian Air Force official said today.

"I find no reason why it shouldn't be signed by the end of this month or next month", Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command, IAF, Air Marshal Rajinder Singh told PTI here.

He indicated that negotiations are currently on with regard to pricing for the 126-aircraft deal. "There is money....this thing here and there (pricing being finalised)".

The Air Marshal admitted to "some problems" (on pricing) but asserted that it's not unusual in such big deals. "It should come through", he said, adding that the first aircraft under the MMRCA deal would start "flowing in" in 2017.

The Air Marshal dismissed reports quoting Russian and German officials who had claimed that the deal is not final yet and that it's still up in the air.

"Nothing of that sort", he said, pointing out India had already declared the lowest bidder -- Rafale -- for the MMRCA deal.

In its last issue published on September 7th, Air & Cosmos magazine reveals that more than half of the negociation points would have been already validated by the Contract Negociation Commity.

In June, HAL also announced that a $108 millions investment in 2 Rafale production facilities (Airframe and engine) has been cleared.

Also read
MBCTV report

Edit : Indian Air Force chief N.A.K Browne has indicated on September 20, that the negociations are on schedule and that the contract will be signed before March 2013 (end of the Indian fiscal year).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Another set of pictures with both Sukhois and Rafales

RafaleSoloDisplay.com has made a new set of pictures available showing a Sukhoi and a Rafale flying together.

The website reveals that those pictures were taken above the Khatenki site, where the Normandie-Niémen begun to fight during WW2.

Reminder : those pictures were taken during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Russian Air Force.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

International Facebook page for the Normandie-Niémen !

The Normandie-Niémen (Fighter Squadron 2/30) has published a new Facebook page in english.

The idea is to improve communication on the squadron's history. Initially the translated version of the french page, the idea is to answer the questions of more and more non-French friends.

Visit the following link : https://www.facebook.com/FighterSquadron230NormandieNiemen

As the picture suggests, you can notice that the 2/30 is about to celebrate its 70th anniversary. Rendez-vous in Mont-de-Marsan on September the 14th.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rafale on Facebook

For those who use Facebook, all Rafale squadrons have a page on which they publish many beautiful pictures, and some news.

Here are various links :
The Provence
The Gascogne
The Normandie-Niémen

Also in the Marine :
Flotille 11F

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

UPDATE : 100th Russian air force anniversary

RafaleNews informed you about the 100th Russian air force anniversary earlier :

Unfortunately, at the time, we had no picture yet.

Here they come :
© Air Actualités
Find more here : http://www.air-actualites.com/diaporama/08-2012-russie/

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brazil : France confident about the Rafale offer, next step in November

Laurent Fabius, French Foreign minister, has shown very confident lately.

He claimed that the French offer is the best, overall, especially in terms of technology, after a meeting with the Brazilian minister of foreign affairs, Antonio Patriota.


The common point of view, though, during this meeting, was that there was nothing new :
Fabius : "our proposal still stands, but the decision is Brazilian."

However, Patriota reveals that our MoD, Jean-Yves le Drian, will meet Celso Amorin in Brazil. The purchase of 36 fighter is expected to be one of the topics, though not the only one. Exame.com indicates that this meeting will happen in November.

Indian ambassador in Paris confirms that negociations are progressing successfully

Mr. Rakesh Sood, Indian ambassador in France, has shown quite reassuring in a new article from Le Parisien.

However, the main point of this article actually provides some hints about why Germans and Russians claimed to be discussing with Indians lately.

The Mr. Reddy's questions have been rejected, but in fact, two members of the
Contract Negociation Commitee have questionned the process too, and AK Anthony won't let any irregularities go through.

There is no illusion : there are still very harsh negotiations ahead, and a communication war is part of the game, hence the Russian and German reactions.

This is in this context that Mr. Rakesh Sood said :

I am sure that our government conducted technological and financial analysis with the greatest rigour. The negotiations are  progressing successfully.

Fighters flying over Paris for the 68th anniversary of its liberation

The Armée de l'Air published an article with some pictures by JB Gurliat

This implyed one Rafale from the 2/30 Normandie-Niémen, based in Mont-de-Marsan, and two Mirage 2000
from the 2/5 Ile-de-France, based in Orange.

Those two squadrons have the particularity to have received the Cross of Liberation for their engagement during WWII.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"We are not talking to anyone except Dassault Aviation"

During this week, two (ex)competitors of France in the MMRCA indicated that they still had their chances, and even that Rafale could finally loose this deal too.

For example, the the Hindu reported that Vyacheskav Dzirkaln, Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation, has shown quite optimistic about this matter :

“I wouldn’t say that the MMRCA tender is a closed issue. We have information that the tender is still up in the air,”


The sides have so far failed to reach agreement on these issues,

And nearly at the same time, The Times of India quoted two German officials...
"There have been discussions between German and Indian officials and I can say that this is not a closed book yet,'' said Schockenoff, a close aide of Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in India on a four-day visit.
"As far as I know, there is not yet a commercial order committed by the Indian government. The Eurofighter manufacturers are working again on the offer and this is a subject of negotiations between the European consortium and the Indian government,'' he added.

Interestingly, Indian officials estimated it was time to remember everybody that, according to MoD source, actually :
"We are not talking to anyone except Dassault Aviation whose Rafale aircraft has been selected as the lowest bidder in the multi-billion dollar contract".

Another article, published in L'Usine Nouvelle, indicated that discussions are really going on, and well, though this may last for long. The article states that due to the high technological complexity of some of the Rafale's components, the aircraft should remain mainly built in France, for more than 50 percent of the production.

8/26/2012 UPDATE :

A new article counterdicting Russians and Germans :

Another reputed source told idrw.org that “There has been no backdoor level talks going on with any losing competitor ” and went on to remind us that Russian offer of Mig-35 had failed in Technical evaluation level and failed miserably  to be even considered as an option if talks with Dassault fails for any reason. next choice will be European EADS  ( Eurofighter ) but we are not talking to them on this matter yet .

Thursday, August 16, 2012

100th Russian air force anniversary (August the 12th)

Thanks to Tonkatsu298

On the 13th, two Rafale accompanied by a Sukhoi flew over the Kazelski airfield so as to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Normandie-Niemen, as we could learn from the Armée de l'Air twits.
Hopefully, we will see pictures of this soon !!!

News on the exportation front

Actuality has slowed down a bit during summer, however, we learnt at least two things about export prospects :

The sad one : Brazil postponed his decision.
According to Mr Amorin (MoD), Brazil has no favorite, and it's not about which aircraft they will choose, but when. Economic growth, as observed for the first trimester, is too low to allow the country to purchase any aircraft. When conditions will improve, they will re-examine the different offers.

© http://www.jequiereporter.com.br/blog/

The happy one : India has found no irregularity in the selection process, discussions are going on, and quite well.
On the Indo-French Rafale deal, Browne said that the bilateral negotiation process is now half-way through and is expected to pick up later this month. “I have flown the aircraft and we all are satisfied and happy with the aircraft. We hope the deal will be completed by the end of the financial year.”
© The Hindu.com

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bastille day, Rafale and Typhoon over Paris

10:42am, July 14th 2012, as part of the first bastille day parade of  French President François Hollande, 2 Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon flew along side 2 Rafale of the French Air Force.
Those Typhoon came from the n°29 squadron based at Coningsby.

No less than 8 Rafale flew this year over the Champs Elysées in all the fighting formations of the aerial parade, illustrating the total versatility reached by the jet in 2012:

reconnaissance / anticipation :

Prevention :

Dissuasion :

Protection :

Intervention :

Pictures of the parade