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.


  1. "a few AESA per squadron may be enough, provided we use them for air superiority for example (AESA flying ahead, PESA behind...). "

    Is this an official plan to introduce only a few AESA equipped Rafales per squadron, or is it just authors comment?

    I'm also curious about "plug-and-play" feature, does it mean that it is possible to equip any Rafale currently flying in Armée de l'Air and Marine nationale with AESA radar without any additional hardware or software updates? Or is it possible only with F3 version?

    1. 1) It's a plan to use the few AESA available when (and only when) it's necessary, because PESA won't be retrofitted. However, the number of AESA will increase over time.

      2) All operational Rafale are at F3 standards (at least since 2010) or better (F3-O, and soon, F3-O4T).

      So, yes, any Rafale can receive the new array, without new hardware/software.

    2. Thanks for your reply, I knew about the plan to upgrade older F1s and F2s to F3, but I didn't know that the job has been finished already.

    3. You're welcome. To be accurate, when I mentioned "all operational Rafale", Rafale M F1 aren't among them yet. But once they will be upgraded, they will be compatible with the new array too.

  2. However authorized TMor is, this sort of canibalism is not proper of the French Airforce.

    The main reason behind plugging the new AESA on a 'B' version aircraft, is because of the priority given to the nuclear attack role.

    Sooner or later, ALL Rafale wil be retrofited since without the radar they will not be able to field Meteor or accomplish the QRA - air superiority role... or meet export requirements.

    Moreover, although 'plug -im', the new radar goes hand in hand with the up - rate OSF + the new IR MWR which can naturally - by way of a more powerful SPECTRA suite - be used for the detection of stealth targets, additionally.


  3. Dassault Aviation has just confirmed that the first round of testing of MBDA BVRAM Meteor missiles has just been concluded.

    That squares of a great month for the Rafale - first the AESA radar integration and now this.

    Link below: