Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rafale pictures of the day

 The crop of month from FoxAlpha !



MMRCA, France 24 report

According to France24 journalist, the Indian public and press response to the Rafale selection has been very positive so far. The selection process is also seen as very clean with few political interference and no corruption issue.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

DGA, a Rafale M loan to UK would be possible

During the DGA annual result press conference on Tuesday February 22, Laurent Collet-Billon, head of the French defense procurement agency said :

[...] "If one day we have to lend Rafale Ms to the Royal Navy, why not? Personally, I’d find that very pleasing " [...]

As the carrier version of the F-35 is facing unexpected technical difficulties (arresting hook issue) the British forces would seek interim solutions involving the F-18 or the Rafale M fighter jets.
Several British pilots are also involved in a training program to fly French Navy Rafale in order to maintain some core carrier operations competencies until the British aircraft carriers are operational.

Source :

UAE, Rafale deal technical and financial terms finalized

This week Air & Cosmos magazine confirms that all the technical and financials terms of the Rafale sale to the UAE have been settled.
The contract signature would now, only depend on a state to state defense agreement.

Earlier this month, the National was quoting Maj Gen Khalid Al Buainnain, former commander of the UAE Air Force :
"The technical and financial and contractual discussions have been completely finished. We're … working out how we can smooth out this contract."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Switzerland, After Press conference, Swiss open to concrete offer from Dassault

Swiss open to concrete offer from Dassault for jets

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Switzerland would be prepared to examine a concrete offer from rival Dassault to buy figher jet planes if it were to be presented with one, its defence minister said on Tuesday.

"We've asked the French to give us a really concrete offer," Defence Minister Ueli Maurer told a news conference on Tuesday.

"If we really do get a lower offer, we'd be able to look at it. We only have a deal with Sweden when the parliament's given the funding and there's possibly been a referendum," he said.

Monday, February 13, 2012

FX-2, Brazil very likely to choose the Rafale

It seems that the Indian selection of the Rafale has unlocked the Brazilian contest too. Reuters is now confirming what the Folha de Sao Paulo was reporting 3 days ago : "Brazil is very likely  to choose France's Rafale fighter jet" according to government sources.

Full article on Reuters
Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:39am EST

  • India's talks with Dassault made Brazil deal viable
  • Brazil suspicious of U.S. technology restrictions
  • Dassault shares up 4.5 pct, company declines comment
  • Boeing says it's still in race with F/A-18 Super Hornet
By Brian Winter

SAO PAULO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Brazil is "very likely" to choose France's Rafale fighter jet to refurbish its air force, government sources say, a decision that would award one of the emerging-market world's most coveted defense contracts to a jet whose future was in doubt only two weeks ago.

President Dilma Rousseff and her top advisers believe that Dassault Aviation's bid to sell at least 36 Rafales offers the best terms among the three finalists, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The other two bidders in the competition are U.S.-based Boeing with its F-18 Super Hornet and Sweden's Saab with its Gripen.
The contract will have an initial value of about $4 billion, but will likely be worth considerably more over time once maintenance and follow-on orders are included.
Rousseff previously had concerns about the Rafale because the jet had not found any buyers outside France. That raised doubts about whether Dassault would have the scale necessary to build the jets at a reasonable cost and maintain them over time.

The sources said Rousseff's concerns were assuaged when India announced on Jan. 31 that it had entered exclusive talks to buy 126 Rafales. Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim traveled to New Delhi last week to discuss the deal with Indian officials and examine documents related to Dassault's bid.

"The India deal changed everything," one of the Brazilian sources said. "With India's decision, it's now very likely the Rafale will be the winner here."
Shares in Dassault Aviation were up about 4.5 percent, at 706.5 euros, in Paris following the news. A spokesman for the company declined comment.

Jeff Kohler, a vice president of Boeing's business development division, said on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow he believed the Brazil bid was still "up in the air."

The Brazilian sources said Dassault offered the best combination of a high-quality aircraft and the sharing of proprietary technology that Rousseff has said is most critical to the deal. Brazil hopes to use the technology to expand its own budding defense industry, led by aircraft maker Embraer .

Boeing's offer of technology has yet to be finalized, but the sources said they believe it cannot compete with Dassault's bid because the United States has previously placed tight restrictions on the sale of military technology abroad, including one incident involving Embraer in 2006.

Dassault touts the Rafale as an agile, medium-sized aircraft with low operating costs that can be more quickly deployed than its bulkier competitors. Those attributes may appeal to Brazil, which has no significant problems with its neighbors and plans to use the aircraft mainly for defensive purposes such as patrolling its recently discovered offshore oil fields.
The sources said that unexpected developments, especially a breakdown in India's talks with Dassault, could still cause Rousseff to change her mind.
They also said her decision would probably not be announced until after France's April-May election, in an attempt to keep the deal from becoming overly politicized.
The F-18 is widely believed to be cheaper than the Rafale, and Boeing recently confirmed that it will offer the jet to Brazil at the same per-unit price as during the last round of bidding in 2009.
Despite her misgivings on Boeing, Rousseff also did not want to choose a jet that might not even be in production a decade into the future. In December, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet warned that Dassault would stop production of the Rafale in 2021 if it did not win any export orders.

Within days of India's announcement regarding talks for the Rafale, Amorim traveled to New Delhi to gauge the bid's terms and its likelihood of proceeding as planned.
Amorim told the Times of India on Wednesday that Indian officials "promised to give us some documents...such as basic rules on the tender process that we could compare to ours."

Brazil is not the only country that appears to be suddenly following India's lead. French newspaper La Tribune reported on Feb. 2 that Dassault could soon seal a sale of at least 60 Rafale fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, turning around a deal that also appeared to be a lost cause.

Switzerland, Evaluation report quick analysis

As the Armasuisse report is not always perfectly readable I've reproduced the charts and compiled the general appreciations for both evaluations. (NWA1 and NWA2)

NWA phase I is the first 2008 evaluation with real flight trials:
The results show a sharp advandage for the Rafale especially for Escort, Srike and Recce missions.
The Rafale is also the only aircraft that was able to engage multiple ground targets simultaneously in one pass.
The only mission where the Eurofighter almost catches up with the Rafale is Air Policing. The Gripen is definitively not in the same leage as far as Air to Air missions are concerned. However, we note that it is ranked slightly above the Eurofighter for Air to Ground and Recce missions.

See the Swiss Air Force appreciations in the table below. Their final recommendation in all missions is the Rafale with the Eurofighter as a possible alternative.

NWA phase II is the second evaluation conduced in 2009 based on technical data of 2015 scheduled capabilities provided by the 3 manufacturers. (see upgrades below)

The results and appreciations below :
Again the ranking remains the same with the Rafale clearly in front especially for Strike and Recce missions.
The Swiss Air Force appreciations when the upgrades are taken into account are in the table below. Their final recommendation in all missions is still the Rafale with the Eurofighter as a possible alternative.

Each mission effectiveness  is an average a several sub-taks effectiveness relevant to the given mission.

The detail sub-task ranking is only available for the Air policing mission (see below)
This is the mission where the Typhoon is ranked almost as good as the Rafale due to superior aircraft performance (apparently mainly related to its high climb rate and capabiliy to supercruise at mach1.4), slightly better pilot workload (Direct voice Input for recurrent basic tasks would explain that) and slighly better engagement (which could be explained by higher altidute/speed/missile max range)

It is worth noting that the Air Policing mission, although important, is a quite low risk mission. In more challenging Air to Air task such as OCA or DCA missions where the target can be highly dangerous and where ECM/RCS become of primary relevance, the Rafale seems to prevail with a more comfortable margin.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Switzerland, leaked evaluation report

Swiss Newspaper Le Matin is publishing today extensive extracts of the Swiss evaluation performed in 2008 and 2009.

As in the previous limited leak, the report clearly states that the Rafale was the prefered aircraft of the Swiss Air Force because of a better technical efficiency in all missions : Air 2 Air, Air to Groud and Recce missions.

The Eurofighter is always lagging behind the French fighter because of less efficient sensors and ECM suite. The Gripen does not even manage to reach the Minimum Espected Capabilities in most of the assessed fileds. According to some High ranking officer of the Swiss Air Force which are eager to bring their insight on the issue to the parliament, the way the Gripen was allowed to pass the technical evaluation is still a mystery.

In November 2011, the Swiss Federal Council had decided to select the Gripen on financial grounds despite the negative technical appreciation of the Swiss Air Force.

UAE, negociations on the Rafale still going on

La Tribune newspaper reported on Wednesday February 1, that the UAE have resumed the negociations with Dassault for a possible Rafale deal. The talks had stalled at the last Dubai Air show in November 2011 when the crown Prince declared that Dassault's proposal was unworkable. Meanwhile, BAE revealed that they had receaved an RFQ to supply the Eurofighter Typhoon, a few weeks before the show. French President Sarkozy could go to the UAE around March to finalized the deal.

The National also confirms that news :

Maj Gen Khalid Al Buainnain, former commander of the Air Force and Air Defence, said: "Discussions never stopped."
Gen Al Buainnain, is also chairman of Baynuna Group, an Abu Dhabi company that has a joint venture with Dassault to "transfer technology know-how, services and products" in the UAE and abroad.
"The technical and financial and contractual discussions have been completely finished. We're … working out how we can smooth out this contract."

Also read :

Saturday, February 11, 2012

MMRCA, the Rafale long flight to India

A must read article from the Business standard News Paper about the MMRCA contest.

All the article is worth reading but below is my quote selection:

We needed to boost our fighter fleet really, really, urgently,” says a serving Air Marshal who prefers to remain anonymous. “And we were determined to implement an acquisition process which nobody in the ministry could fault or delay. Today, the IAF process has become the gold standard for fighter aircraft acquisitions worldwide. The Brazilian defence minister, who visited Delhi this week, has asked us to share details with his ministry on just how we did it.”
It was the next stage of evaluation — flight trials — that has put IAF’s testing process in a league of its own. Conducted by the Directorate of Air Staff Requirements, and overseen by the quiet and unflappable Air Commodore (now Air Vice-Marshal) R K Dhir, each of the six contenders was flight-tested by IAF pilots on 660 separate performance aspects. For example, the RfP demanded that the fighter’s engine should be replaced within one hour. The maintenance teams actually made each contender do that. If IAF demanded a “sustained turn rate” (the quickness with which a fighter can turn around in the air) of 24 degrees per second, each fighter was physically put through this manoeuvre to establish that it met this requirement. (Incidentally, both the US fighters failed to meet IAF’s “sustained turn rate” requirements)
Last April, the ministry “down-selected” the Rafale and Typhoon, which meant that only these two aircraft had passed the flight trial evaluation. Now the game had changed; with performance established, the cheaper of the two was going to be adjudged the winner. For the first time in India, costs were not compared on the ticket price alone, but on how much the fighter would cost to buy, build, upgrade and operate over a service life of three to four decades. IAF had clearly learned a lesson from the Russian MiG experience, where a cheap upfront price that seemed initially attractive led to enormous operating costs and a lower aircraft availability that meant that when IAF paid for six squadrons, it actually had just three squadrons to fly.
Air Marshal (retired) Padamjit Singh Ahluwalia, who brought the first Mirage 2000s to India, says, “Russian fighters like the MiG-29 are great for air shows but serviceability is often a problem. When you get airborne, the radar often becomes unserviceable… sometimes this happens between two sorties.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Video, Rafale M cockpit view

Since the superb video "Agapanthe 2010-2011" is not available anymore, you can still watch this part of the Video on YouTube
Good News, the full "Agapanthe 2010-2011" video is back on Patrick Aviation !

MMRCA, Rafale much cheaper than Typhoon; govt rules out review

The Times of India reports that the Rafale was 22 to 25% cheaper than the Typhoon :

NEW DELHI: It was the "substantially higher cost" of acquiring and operating the Eurofighter Typhoon that led to its ejection from the almost $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project to supply 126 fighters to IAF.

"The French Rafale jet, the eventual winner, beat the Typhoon hollow both in terms of life cycle costs and direct acquisition costs. The entire MMRCA project cost would have gone up by around Rs 25,000 crore if Typhoon had been selected over Rafale," a top defence ministry source said on Thursday.

Given all this, MoD has ruled out the possibility of "any comeback" by Typhoon despite carping by the four nations (UK, Germany, Spain and Italy) backing it, and will begin "exclusive and extensive negotiations" with Rafale-manufacturer Dassault Aviation next week. "The actual contract for the complex project should be ready for inking by September-October," said a source.

British PM David Cameron may have vowed to "encourage" India to reconsider its decision to go in for Rafale, instead of the EADS-manufactured Typhoon, in the largest "open-tender" military aviation deal going around the globe. But that is highly unlikely to happen.

"The fact is that the cost deferential between Typhoon and Rafale was very high... it would cost India around 22% to 25% more if the former had been selected. No government can agree to so much extra," the source said.

Both Rafale and Typhoon had been found "compliant" on all the 643-660 technical parameters laid down to meet specific operational requirements of India, after gruelling field trials by IAF test pilots spread over two years.

The other four jets -- the American F/A-18 'Super Hornet' and F-16 'Super Viper', the Russian MiG-35 and Swedish Gripen - were weeded out from the hotly-contested race last year since they did not meet all the "test points".

"We went by the book, first in the extensive technical evaluation and now in the meticulous commercial evaluation, without any external factors coming into play," said the source.

For one, the "life cycle cost" of operating the Typhoon over a 40-year period, with 6,000 hours of flying, was found to be "higher" than Rafale after extensive calculations of flight costs, spares, maintenance and the like. "The life cycle costs were actually the tool to determine who was L-1 (lowest bidder)," he said.

For another, the difference in the 'direct acquisition cost', which will actually be used to ink the contract, was even bigger. "The Typhoon's commercial bid was way too high. Rafale was the clear L-1 in both life cycle as well as direct acquisition costs," he added.

Dassault will now have to submit a detailed project report on the transfer of technology (ToT) to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). While the first 18 jets will come in "fly-away condition'' from France from mid-2015 onwards, the rest 108 fighters will subsequently be manufactured under licence by HAL over six years.

"We will negotiate each and every element in the complex project with the French. Payments, as also the 50% offsets specified in the contract, will be spread over 11 to 13 years," he said.

The first jet built in HAL is expected to roll out by 2017-2018. Thereafter, HAL will deliver six jets per year, which will go up to 20 per year later. "HAL will achieve 85% technology absorption by the end. Incidentally, Typhoon's cost of ToT was also very high," he said.

This "mother" of all defence deals will later become the "granny", as reported by TOI earlier, since India will in all probability go in for another 63 fighters after the first 126 jets.

IAF is looking at these 126 new jets, apart from the ongoing progressive induction of 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia for around $12 billion, to stem its fast-eroding combat edge against Pakistan and China. IAF has already identified Ambala and Jodhpur airbases in the western sector, followed by Hashimara in the eastern sector, to house the first MMRCA squadrons.

India is now finalizing details of the stealth Indo-Russian FGFA (fifth-generation fighter aircraft) to be built in the coming decades. IAF hopes to begin inducting the first lot of the 250 to 300 FGFA from 2020 onwards, which rough calculations show will eventually cost India around $35 billion. 

MMRCA, Rafale better than Eurofighter.

Disclamer: This post is purposely provocative ;)

For sure, Rafale is a better Navy fighter than the Typhoon
After the elimination of the Eurofighter from the MMRCA contest (leaving the Rafale as the only contender for the mega deal) UK has sent a delegation to India in a last and desperate attempt to force India to buy the Eurofighter instead of the Rafale based on the most naive argument of them all: The Eurofighter is a better plane than the Rafale as stated by British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Well, is it ?

Aquisition price and maintenance costs : Apparently the Rafale is better as the Indian Ministry of defence has just concluded that the French jet is 15% 22% less expensive to buy and operate than the Typhoon.

Air to Air efficiency : Despite all the urban legends spread by the British lobbies, the Rafale does prevail in the Air to air role. Notably, the Rafale was rated clearly higher (in both defensive and offensive A2A missions) than the Eurofighter by Switzerland after 2 very serious evaluations by the Swiss Air Force whose primary requirerment was for an Air Defense fighter.

 Air to Ground efficiency : No contest here, the Rafale's statistics in Libya speaks for themselves. The British Eurofighter, with their limited Air to ground capabilities,  barely did half of the sorties and 1/5 of the tasks accomplished by the Rafale during the conflict (see below).

Compliance with Indian long term strategic framework: Again the Typhoon is lagging severely in this area.
  • The Rafale is carrier capable, the Eurofighter is not
  • The Rafale platform is optimized for nuclear strikes, not the Eurofighter
  • The Rafale will share many weapons with the upgraded IAF Mirage 2000, that's not the case of the Eurofighter
  • The Rafale has no string with US missiles used by Pakistani F-16, the Eurofighter currently uses the same american BVR missile as the PAF...
  • Rafale is more effecient
  • Rafale is more versatile
  • Rafale is more mature
  • Rafale is more independant
  • Rafale is cheaper
 So, Mister Cameron, let's be honnest: The Rafale is a better plane than the Eurofighter. And India knows it.

sources :

FX-2, India to share MMRCA evaluation experience with Brazil

C. Amorim (left) and AK Antony (right)
A week after India decision to select the Rafale, the Brazilian Defense Minister, Celso Amorim, has met his Indian counterpart, AK Antony, in order to get  insights on the MMRCA selection procedure. Indeed Brazil has its own contest (FX-2 for 36 jets) going on, and is expected to select a fighter this year. The three contenders are the F/A-18E, the Gripen and of course the Rafale which would be the front runner as per the last declarations of the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff when she came in France last year.

 "Brazil is in the process of buying a fighter jet. You have already reached the final stages of the fighter selection for the air force. They have promised to give us some documents on the selection process, such as basic rules on the tender process that we could compare to ours," Amorin said to the Times of India

Nervertheless he also added :
"Sharing of experience doesn't mean we follow your decision," 

In the meantime, the folha de SaƓ Polo was reporting yesterday, February 9, that the decision to select the Rafale would have already been done by the Brazilian government, with a possible contract signature after the French elections in May. According to the Newspaper, the Rafale's fair and square victory in India would have been a clear signal for the Brazilian government to opt for the French Fighter.

So it seems that, besides the Indian deal which will required several months to be signed, at least one more export coul be finalized quite rapidly this year. But as usual, we should be very carefull not to consider a deal done until it has actually been signed.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Video, Right now you are flying a Rafale M

Edit the video is not available anymore :( is back online :)
Agapanthe 2010-2011 French Rafale: French Navy Dassault Rafale on Patrick Aviation.

A must see video made by the 12F squadron during the Agapanthe 2010-2011 mission over Afghanistan (3-4 months before the Libyan conflict).

Rafale 12F Agapanthe 2010-2011 from Cougar133 on Vimeo.

The video itself is a wink to the "Fighter Flying serie" made by the US Navy F-14 squadrons in the 90ies-2000 until 2004 ... the last one with the most famous "Right Now clip" (see below)

At 14:58 you can see footage of the famous Gulf of Sidra interception when 2 Libyan Mig-23 were shot down by 2 F-14 of the VF32 Swordsmen squadron on January 4, 1989

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

MMRCA, Rafale International official Web Site

Rafale International has released its official Web Site for the Indian contest.
Reading quickly throuh the numerous pages, one will notice that Dassault emphasizes on the Navy version of the Plane for the Indian Navy.

[...]The aim of the RAFALE candidacy for the MMRCA program is to provide the Indian Air Force (and later Indian Navy when a similar combat aircraft program is launched) with a combat aircraft at par with the political and military rank of India in the coming decades, able to ensure and to maintain the local air superiority of India.

[...]French aircraft have always taken part to the Indian history serving the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy over the years and the wars. 

[...]Operational in the French Navy since 2004 and in the French Air Force since 2006, the RAFALE of the French forces have been engaged in various campaigns over Afghanistan and recently in Libya, in the most severe environmental conditions :
  • from the Charles de Gaulle carrier in the warm seas of the Indian Ocean or  of the Mediterranean
  • from the high altitude rough airfields of the Himalaya or the desert of Libya,
[...]With full commonality with the Air Force version, the RAFALE is also available in a Navy version to be operated from an aircraft carrier. [...]

 The message is clear: If you like the ground base versions, you will love the Navy one.

Rafale M are back on the CdG

Since Sunday, February 5, a group of Rafale M and one E-2C Hawkeye have rejoined the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in order to performed Rafale carrier qualification for former Super Etendard pilots of the 11F squadron. This is the second French Navy squadron that will operate the Rafale M. the CdG left its home base 3 days ealier to get the ship ready.

Also read: Flotille 11F switches to Rafale M

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Video, Rafale's Nexter 30mm gun in action

Rafale using its DEFA 30M 791B gun during the Garlic Marauder exercise in UK.
You have 5 min to give me the distance between the plane and the camera ;)

Nexter 30M791B gun
 The GIAT 30M 791
shell type: 30x150mm B
Muzzle velocity: 1025 m/s
Rate of fire: 300 / 600 / 1500 / 2500 rounds per minute
Firing modes: continuous bursts or controlled 0.5 or 1 second bursts.
The Rafale gun fits on the right side of the fuselage