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Subject: UK Pilot flight test the Rafale F3
Bluewings12    11/9/2009 1:57:05 PM
By Peter Collins : Chapter 1 , the aircraft : "Most advanced Allied air forces now have operational fleets of fourth-generation fighters (defined by attributes such as being fly-by-wire, highly unstable, highly agile, net-centric, multi-weapon and multi-role assets). These Western types include the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen NG. The Boeing F-15E and Lockheed Martin F-16 have an older heritage, but their latest upgrades give them similar multi-role mission capabilities. Of the above group, only the Super Hornet and Rafale M are capable of aircraft-carrier operations. As these fourth-generation fighters' weapons, sensor systems and net-centric capabilities mature, the likelihood of export orders for such an operationally proven package becomes much more realistic. On behalf of Flight International, I became the first UK test pilot to evaluate the Rafale in its current F3 production standard, applicable to aircraft for both French air force and French navy frontline squadrons. The "proof-of-concept" Rafale A first flew in 1986 as an aerodynamic study, leading to the programme's formal launch two years later. The slightly smaller single-seat Rafale C01 and two-seat B01 for the French air force and single-seat M01 and M02 prototypes for the navy flew from 1991. The first production-standard Rafale flew in 1998, and entered service with the navy's 12F squadron at Landivisiau in 2004 in the F1 (air-to-air) standard. Deliveries of the air force's B- and C-model aircraft started in 2006 in the F2 standard, dubbed "omnirole" by Dassault. Since 2008, all Rafales have been delivered in the F3 standard, which adds reconnaissance pod integration and MBDA's ASMP-A nuclear weapon capability. All aircraft delivered in earlier production standards will be brought up to the F3 configuration over the next two years. The French forces plan to purchase 294 Rafales: 234 for the air force and 60 for the navy. Their Rafales are set to replace seven legacy fighter types, and will remain as France's principal combat aircraft until at least 2040. To date, about 70 Rafales have been delivered, with a current production rate of 12 a year. Rafale components and airframe sections are built at various Dassault facilities across France and assembled near Bordeaux, but maintained in design and engineering configuration "lockstep" using the virtual reality, Dassault-patented Catia database also used on the company's Falcon 7X business jet. Rafale software upgrades are scheduled to take place every two years, a complete set of new-generation sensors is set for 2012 and a full mid-life upgrade is planned for 2020 SUPERB PERFORMANCE The Rafale was always designed as an aircraft capable of any air-to-ground, reconnaissance or nuclear strike mission, but retaining superb air-to-air performance and capabilities. Air force and navy examples have made three fully operational deployments to Afghanistan since 2005, giving the French forces unparalleled combat and logistical experience. The commitments have also proved the aircraft's net-centric capabilities within the co-ordination required by coalition air forces and the command and control environment when delivering air support services to ground forces. Six Rafale Ms recently carried out a major joint exercise with the US Navy from the deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The air force's B/C fighters have 80% commonality with the navy's Rafale M model, the main differences being the latter's navalised landing gear, arrestor hook and some fuselage longitudinal strengthening. Overall, the M is about 300kg (661lb) heavier than the B, and has 13 hardpoints, against the 14 found on air force examples. Dassault describes the Rafale as omnirole rather than multirole. This is derived from the wide variety of air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons, sensor pods and fuel tank combinations it can carry; the optimisation of aircraft materials and construction; and the full authority digital FBW controlling a highly agile (very aerodynamically unstable) platform. This also gives the aircraft a massive centre of gravity range and allows for a huge combination of different mission stores to be carried, including the asymmetric loading of heavy stores, both laterally and longitudinally. Other attributes include the wide range of smart and discrete sensors developed for the aircraft, and the way that the vast array of received information is "data fused" by a powerful central computer to reduce pilot workload when presented in the head-down, head-level and head-up displays. The Rafale is designed for day or night covert low-level penetration, and can carry a maximum of 9.5t of external ordinance, equal to the much larger F-15E. With a basic empty weight of 10.3t, an internal fuel capacity of 4.7t and a maximum take-off weight of 24.5t, the Rafale can lift 140% of additional lo
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Hamilcar    Kovy reply.   11/11/2009 6:04:10 PM

Shrug. Different man. All I was saying is that three in theater was the known limit. You really don't see aircraft carriers mounting standing patrols more than 700+ nautical miles from Afghanistan, if you can put land-based French air from Dushanbe which is where the actual French Air Force missions sortied., 

The south of Afghanistan is less than 400 nm away from the costs of Pakistan where the aircraft carriers operate^1. fighters that operate from carriers refuel over Pakistan (KC-10, KC-135) before rejoining their partrol zone

As a comparaison, Duchambe is 250 nm away from Kaboul and about 500 nm away from the south of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is bigger than Iraq
 Read your own comments underlined, and this-unrefueled radius for a Rafale is about 1000 nautical miles claimed for a penetration mission which is no time on station at all from a carrier whgen you look at the places where the French actually bombed the Afghan/Pak  NW  frontier..
^1 Bit much further from sea and less from Dushanbe than that actually.
You see where this is going, right?


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Lynstyne       11/11/2009 6:30:27 PM

Lynstyne :

""Going off topic - that is the 1st time ive seen a picture of a tanker smaller than the receiver.  was it apublicity stunt / demo or was it practised on a regular basis""


What is important is the fuel you need at that precise moment in time . Getting 2.5 tons of fuel is a good thing , whatever the "tanker size" is .

This kind of refuelling (SEM/Tomcat) was not a "regular" thing but it happened few times . The USN and the MN have been working together for a bloody long time and we share more things that people tend to think .


Cheers .

the question was related to the  frequency which french ac had refueled USN.
the comment related to the fact it looks odd whe the tankers dwrfed by the receiver . I was happily aware that you dont have to transfer 20 tonns of fuel at a time.
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MK       11/11/2009 7:07:06 PM


You lost your time but I will not lost mine to answer you.

Everything is in my former post for years.

On the Typhoon DASS, if all Typhoon have the interferometric geolocation like Rafale, only the Italian version has a frontal cross eye jamming directional capability added after design and not 3D integrated.It is not 360° 3D active signature management.

RAF Typhoon have a omnidirectional towed jammer.

If you would understand basic of ECM you would not have written this post.

There is some documentation available on company or DoD sites and when you understand technology behind, it is clear.


The first problem is not to understand Rafale, is to understand basics of military technology.

Then you would understand Rafale protection concept which is unique for a fighter until know (US had choosen passive stealth for F35 and F22).

Rafale has been designed at birth around jamming and LO.

If I provide documents you don't read while I have given the best internet open information (and I know where to search and what are the key words to use since I have the knowledge), I can not do better for you.

First about the Gripen:

Look at page 12 Support System After Landing and that's for the CURRENT EWS39. is a good start, but grossley outdated. Cross Eye jamming is a technique rather than a specific type of jammer and the italian thoughts aimed at rearward facing cross eye jamming using a second rearward facing ECM antenna in the right ESM/ECM pod. The italians finally opted for TRDs like most other customers. Cross Eye jamming is still possible in the forward hemisphere if it is actually employed has not been reported. 
And the TRD is no simple repeater or broadcasting type whatsover, read the article I linked to rather than pretending you "know".
Furthermore if you believe that DASS wasn't part of the original design philosophy you are mistaken and it's more than a simple collection of threat warning sensors and counter measures. It's actually a SA tool as well, fully integrated into the AIS.
By 3-D signature management you certainly mean all aspect don't you? You use terms which sound important in the first place, but which are much less spectaculare if you actually look what they really mean. And if the Rafale would have been an all aspect LO design it would have certainly looked different! The Rafale's shape was determined on aerodynamic performance first. Signature reduction measures has been applied for the production variant, albeit we know the "D" modell was supposed to be more stealthy than the current design. How they would have wanted it to be achieved is another question. LPI characteristics employed by its RF systems and possibly EMCON as well as the reduced frontal RCS aren't Rafale specific either. Just fanboys with no relation to reality get overly excited by that and don't realise that what they believe to be unique is in fact employed by most if not all modern fighters to a more or lesser extend.
So come again when you know what you are brabbling about.
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Kovy       11/11/2009 8:26:34 PM

Afghanistan is bigger than Iraq


 Read your own comments underlined, and this-unrefueled radius for a Rafale is about 1000 nautical miles claimed for a penetration mission which is no time on station at all from a carrier whgen you look at the places where the French actually bombed the Afghan/Pak  NW  frontier..


^1 Bit much further from sea and less from Dushanbe than that actually.







You see where this is going, right?

The 12 rafale M of the french navy were operating in the south of Afghanistan (Kandahar region)
They performed at least 2 (sometimes more) air-refueling during one mission. The mission usualy last 6 hours which means 3 to 4 hours of CAS -on station- over Afghanistan.
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Hamilcar    Kovy reply.   11/11/2009 11:50:00 PM
The geography and the reports are against you.
Now do you see where this goes?   
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Das Kardinal       11/12/2009 4:59:13 AM

Snarky comment : Collins apparently didn't find the Rafale underpowered ;-)

if the last authorised combat jet you flew was the Harrier in 1993, and if the zippiest aircraft you flew in service was a jaguar - well, then of course the Rafale was not underpowered.

again, in smalll syllables.

if he has not flown any contemp or near peer combat aircraft then he is in no position to comment on the platform competency of a Rafale vis a vis F-22, Su-27 or heaven forbid, a Mig 29 even.  

again, extrapolating his exciting journey in the rafale does not extrapolate what it can do against contemp peers if he has not joyridden in them either.

the same nonsense applies to people like carlo kopp when they backseated a shornet.

btw, some of the people in here you deride as internet experts do have actual expertise in some of the fields they participate in.  me? I freely admit to not having any association with combat aircraft beyond doing assessments on equipment.  that however might give me enough of a leg up over people who drive a desk, drive a truck or drive a pen for a living...

Yes, yes, I agree that getting in a Rafale after flying Harriers or Jaguars has to be a large gap, and explain some of Collins' enthusiasm. I also agree that he may not be as up-to-date on "modern" fighters than current military pilots. That said, given his pedigree, job and likely address book, I'm quite sure he's not completely ignorant at least in the theoretical side of things, and he does have an amount of credibility that the average forum dweller doesn't have (I include myself, obviously, in this category).
That said, it would be even better if he could fly on Typhoon and Gripen then make a comparison between the three. 

Having read you for years now here and elsewhere, gf-, I wouldn't include you in the "armchair wannabe expert", rest assured of that. Your credibility's pretty much golden around here and your opinion holds weight (at least in my eyes). 

Lastly, I was interested in what people would say of the airframe performance aspect of the test flight, for the simple and reason that while systems can be discussed at will and hard, trustable figures are difficult to come by (even less agree on) about issues like radar range, ECM effectiveness, etc ; here Collins gave us hard numbers that can be used in performance discussions without the usual provisos of "well of course it's secret but as far as the rumor goes its says.../I can't tell you more because I'd lose my job and go to jail". That alone is rather nice to have. 

On a totally unrelated subject, how about driving a petition demanding that SP use a better forum software ?  
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Bluewings12       11/12/2009 12:38:06 PM
Oh and by the way , that was in 2007 Herald , now the Rafales involved in A-Stan are F3s .
Cheers .
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Bluewings12       11/12/2009 12:59:52 PM
What Peter Collins played with and barely scratched the surface (as he says) are some of the Thalès systems onboard the Rafale F3 .
Is is a nice little video to show you the gizmos :

Unfortunatly , this video will force us to read a possible bad reaction from Herald ...

Cheers .
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sentinel28a       11/12/2009 1:42:19 PM
Are you real sure about the Rafale F3 being in Afghanistan, BW?  Both Air International and Combat Aircraft Monthly have the Rafale F3 just entering squadron service in France, unless that squadron has already deployed.  (The CAM article is a month old, so that's possible.)
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sentinel28a       11/12/2009 1:46:41 PM
Never mind--I just answered my own question.  According to Dassault's article, the Rafales currently serving in Afghanistan are F2s, not F3s.  The F3 is still entering service.
According to Dassault, the F3 will almost certainly be in Af-Pak soon, but it's not there yet.  Last deployment info only mentions the Rafale F2.
Now another question from me--are the Rafale Ms being upgraded to F3s at the same time as the AdA's, or is Dassault concentrating on the AdA's first and then the Aeronavale?
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