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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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MK       11/18/2009 2:47:03 PM
MK :
1: because they have to  , 2: because they can

I know that I tend to simplify the equation but I believe in them . Whatever tech they use , maybe higher temperatures as you said , Snecma 's people are racing right now . Maybe the new engine will not be called  "-4 " but who cares .

Back in the 90s Snecma proposed to future growth variants of the M88. The M88-3 was to be a 9t class engine proposed for 2006, while the M88-4 was a proposed 11t class engine for the 2010+ timeframe. The M88-3 was actually in development and a prototype was benc tested in early 2005. This engine was ~100 kg heavier and featured a new LP compressor resulting in an increased airflow of 72 kg/sec and pressure ratio of 27:1. The increased airflow required a new enlarged intake however, which was already designed by Dassault. This solution wasn't liked that much however and the M88-3 got subsequently canceled and replaced by the M88-2ECO. Afaik there is no "-4" version on the table right now and speaking about it just adds confusion and might create a wrong impression.
 
The first sentence is correct , the second one is not . As an exemple , do you think that a SH with a similar heavy load than a Rafale has more thrust available at any altitude ? The answer is no and the answer is still the same with the Mig-35 or with any F-16 . The SU-30 , SU-35 and the F-15K are a wee bit better in high altitude than the Rafale when heavily loaded , but the Rafale is on the par at low and medium altitude .

The Rafale doesn "lack behind" , as you say . Of course , a 9 or even 9,5 tons thrust engine would give better performance but as it stands and for the FAF and MN , the actual Rafale 's thrust fit the needs and fill the bill .

I speak about aircraft in a similar size class such as the Typhoon, F/A-18C or MiG-29/35. All these aircraft are a bit larger and heavier (empty weight wise). The Rafale's superior payload capabilities lead to equal or even slightly higher MTOW. (23.5t Typhoon & MiG-35, 22.3t F/A-18C and 24.5t Rafale). At such TOWs the Rafale's TWR would be noticably inferior with 2 x 7650 kg in comparison to 2 x 8050 kg (F/A-18C), 2 x 9000 kg (MiG-35) or 2 x 9180+ kg (Typhoon). That's what I refer to as "lack behint at high TOWs presumably on strike missions".
 

 
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Bluewings12       11/18/2009 6:32:00 PM
MK , I agree with the first part of your response . Your numbers are fine , and the talking "sound" .
Nice mix of proper data and personal view .
To try to add a bit more to the discussion regarding the futur M88 , France is a bit behind the USA in term of high temperature core engine . This is where we can close the gap , at least regarding the Rafale F3+ .
Snecma knows how to make a 9,5 tons thrust engine and the thing is running on the bench for a rather long time now .
The problem is twofold : it has to fit in the actual airframe and it needs to use the actual air intakes .
Surely , Dassault could make a newer version of the "Rafale F3 Mk2 (?)" for export with bigger intakes just for the sake of it . As we both said , it can be done in a rather short time because it would be newly built Rafales anyway .
(Btw , the M88-2ECO is a fine engine .)
 
Now , the second part of your post is highly debatable .
To start with , who would use his aircraft at its MTOW for more than the first 600nm ? It make sense to take off at max weight , even from a Carrier , if you have to go very far and you even expect Tankers to be on station . Then , you can jettison some of your "bidons" (or all of them if needed) to fly "almost clear" (warload only) .
The best for a 4 or 4.5 gen fighter is to keep a single supersonic central fuel tank . If the aircraft 's 3D numerical signature is manageable through active ECM , it is even better ;-)
To put it short , a Rafale taking off @24.5t will not stay that heavy for very long and this is true for all fighters .
 
Cheers .

 
 
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gf0012-aust       11/19/2009 6:24:07 AM

An interesting fact on Peter Collins bio:

 «During his RAF career Collins rose to the rank of squadron leader, completing two frontline tours of duty flying Harriers in Germany and serving in the Falklands in 1982, flying Sea Harriers while on detachment with the navy on Illustrious. Following two years as a pilot and later team leader with the Red Arrows, in 1989 he qualified as an experimental military test pilot and was appointed Officer Commanding of the Aerospace Research Test Squadron at DRA Bedford where he worked on the Joint Strike Fighter?»

lets put this bio to bed shall we...

Collins CO'd at ARTS from 1989 to 1993 whereupon he left the service.  In that period he claims to have worked on JSF.

Note the key dates to follow:
JSF Concept Exploration commenced in 1994.  
JSF Concept Definition and Design Exploration was 1994-1996
JSF Concept Demonstration Phase was 1996-2001.

Now in most parts of the globe where reality and linear maths holds sway, 1994 comes after 1993. He'd already left the service in 93 so could not have been involved with JSF at any of the 3 critical concept paths.

JSF in 94 was a lineart concept where it still had canards and at one stage sported a single skeg tailplane - it was also a double delta.

so how in gods name can anyone claim to have functional knowledge when their bio does not match up with the actual development and concept definition dates - and more to the point, when those concept definition studies involved a paper plane that looks NOTHING like JSF today - that the plane for that period was not only different in design, but a different designation.




 
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Lynstyne       11/19/2009 7:13:41 AM
A recent talk on the JSF , albiet a general talk not covering any sensitive aspects raised the following points.
 
1) The concept of the JSF is to have commonality accross as many operators as possible so USN USAF can service each others RAF USAF can service each others - so the aircraft are as similar as possible.
1b) There is no difference between nations aircraft - weapons integration and assoc software not withstanding.
 
2) The VSTOL isnt as ill considered as some believe (even a violently opposed colleague of mine has come round to the view. The RN carefully considered the options before going STOVL. Nor despite certain claims is the STOVL varient going to be any less reliable.
 
3)STOVL varient is more suited to CAS role .  CTOL varient more suited to strike roles.
 
4) A lot of tech transfer is 2 way uk-us
 
5) The frontal aspect RCS incorporates many lessons learned with typhoon  - This was a claim in the talk as to how much is Uk knowledge is as always open to debate. This does explain though why LM rather stupidly went with a retractable refueling probe, rather than following the example of that world beater in stealth technology Dassult and their leading demonstrator the Rafale.
 
 
 
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StobieWan       11/19/2009 7:32:55 AM
Ah, well, shame on you for not reading the CV *properly* - it clearly says there somewhere that he also test drove for Delorean..okay? Marty...we've got to get back...back to the future!
 
Ian
 






An interesting fact on Peter Collins bio:



 «During his RAF career Collins rose to the rank of squadron leader, completing two frontline tours of duty flying Harriers in Germany and serving in the Falklands in 1982, flying Sea Harriers while on detachment with the navy on Illustrious. Following two years as a pilot and later team leader with the Red Arrows, in 1989 he qualified as an experimental military test pilot and was appointed Officer Commanding of the Aerospace Research Test Squadron at DRA Bedford where he worked on the Joint Strike Fighter?»






lets put this bio to bed shall we...



Collins CO'd at ARTS from 1989 to 1993 whereupon he left the service.  In that period he claims to have worked on JSF.




Note the key dates to follow:

JSF Concept Exploration commenced in 1994.  

JSF Concept Definition and Design Exploration was 1994-1996

JSF Concept Demonstration Phase was 1996-2001.




Now in most parts of the globe where reality and linear maths holds sway, 1994 comes after 1993. He'd already left the service in 93 so could not have been involved with JSF at any of the 3 critical concept paths.




JSF in 94 was a lineart concept where it still had canards and at one stage sported a single skeg tailplane - it was also a double delta.




so how in gods name can anyone claim to have functional knowledge when their bio does not match up with the actual development and concept definition dates - and more to the point, when those concept definition studies involved a paper plane that looks NOTHING like JSF today - that the plane for that period was not only different in design, but a different designation.












 
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One Five Five Echo       11/19/2009 11:23:23 AM
2) The VSTOL isnt as ill considered as some believe (even a violently opposed colleague of mine has come round to the view. The RN carefully considered the options before going STOVL. Nor despite certain claims is the STOVL varient going to be any less reliable.
 
STOVL has a lot going for it for smaller forces and for expeditionary forces like the USMC.  The biggest one is that shipboard landings are not much different from landing on airstrips, unlike arrested landings which require constant practice.  So your STOVL force can spend a lot of time away from ships and not lose currency.  Both the UK and the USMC really just operate temporarily from carriers, so this is a huge consideration for them.
 
There's also the fact that STOVL on small ships can operate in sea states that would deny CATOBAR flight ops on big carriers.
 
3)STOVL varient is more suited to CAS role .  CTOL varient more suited to strike roles.
 
I guess, in the sense that the STOVL can be forward based more easily in theory.  In practice that never happens, the amount of logistics needed to support ongoing CAS ops is way too big to handle in a rough-field mode.  In that sense IMO the CTOL variants are still better for everything, they have longer legs and can carry more weapons internally (eg 4 SDBs vice 3 for the F-35B).
 
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Hamilcar    It doesn't.    11/20/2009 12:01:17 AM

Whilst not the best Dog fighter, I was under the impression from various sources that the tornado ADV did its designed job well ie bomber interceptor with a good ability to loiter over the north sea.

 

Good radar + Good missiles

 

Quite why that makes it a crap aircraft i dont know.

 

 

The Tornado ADV did what it was supposed to do, intercept bombers and patrol planes quite well. The missiles AND THE RADAR WAS WHAT WERE IMPORTANT. The plane was the launch platform and the sensor mount, something our Rafale boosters never understand. The Phantom was not a dog-fighter either. It just combined a decent radar, and for the era,  a working pair of missiles.
 
First look, first shot, first kill.   
 
 
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Hamilcar       11/20/2009 12:08:27 AM

FS :

""BW , if I remember well French M2000-5 use the RDY-1 and not the RDY-2""


 

Of course , for some reason I was thinking about the -5 Mk2 . My bad ...

On the other , you also made a mistake ;-)


You said :

""BTW RF guided missiles have low probability to lock a LO target unless at very close range.So missile has to be guided almost until last km by plane radar and datalink and so differ few of a semiactive missile.

You lose benefit of fire and forget missile.""




 

(Ok , you 're talking about LO target , not VLO )




Unless you forgot what a "Fox-3" is , you are wrong . 


 

If the target is a F-22 or a B2 , you are correct , the missile needs help all the way to close range . Against a LO target (a la Rafale/SH) an American or French or Russian or Israeli or Indian or Chinese active EM missile (to name a few) will lock at a decent range (10 to 20km ?) . You can do a true fire-and-forget shot . Of course , RWRs , ECMs , etc will kick in .


 


""Now a missile like MICA IR has an enormous advantage to be silent, as the target may not be manoeuvering since it doesn't detect the missile (which is also not properled after first kilometers).So it extends real efficient range.""

 

I agree , but what MK said holds a lot of water :


""Regarding the MICA IR you have to take into account that the most recent fighters are all equipped with MAWs so you can't be to sure that the missile won't be detected, certainly not by EM emissions but by its heat emissions""

 

Surely you responded in kind by saying that the Mica has a very short burst (it also has the fastest acceleration/time ratio of all AtoA missiles) and is harder to detect during launch specialy from long range BVR . It is true .


MK also responded in kind , saying :


""Heat of a fast missile caused by friction can still be detected and there are MAWS not relying on IR or UV anyway.""

 

I don 't remember the link , but I was reading something on the Net not long ago about it . As I recall , some of the latest IRSTs could (?) detect the heat cone of a fast moving missile at around 15 to 20km in good weather condition . If someone knows a bit more , feel free ;-)


Interesting discussion anyway .


 

FS , the article you posted is also very interesting . You only copy/pasted a nice quote but that wasn 't the most important stuff . The following is more interesting :


""a deal to replace their 63 ageing Mirage 2000-9 fighters with the top-line Dassault Rafale multi-role aircraft""

Then later on :

""the Mirage 2000-9 are advanced enough that the French air force wants to keep them; that?s one of their best available options.?""



 

We knew that and we talked about it on another thread . I think that we could easily  "refurbish" the ageing 63 M2000-9s , keep 30 of them for us (Dijon , Cambrai (?)) and sell the rest , 3 Countries have interest in the deal .

Here in Dijon BA-102 , we could just send the 2/2 Wing (Alpha-Jet training Unit) to another airbase and get 30 M2000-9s in complement to our already 35 M2000-5Fs ! That would be a rather formidable force and we could even help the Rafales from St Dizier AB (20 minutes away in Mirage) for possible multirole missions in A-Stan .

That sounds good , don 't you think ?

 

Then , since France opened an airbase in the UAE , this quote is even more relevant :


 

""Gen Jean-Paul Palomeros, chief of staff of the French air fo
 
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gf0012-aust       11/20/2009 1:08:34 AM
read again P. Collins and other testers who flew the Rafale . Then , check our pilots reports .




this would be the same P Collins who's biographical claims don't add up with known publicly available data?  lets recap again because factoid reading seems to be a selective art for some in here.  Now either Mr Collins is being historically and occupationally creative or he's telling a few fibs.  Either way his credibility is tarnished if the above is an extract.

On top of which (wash rinse repeat) what near peers has he flown since 1993 (out of service) to make claims about F3 capability against any other contemp article?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

An interesting fact on Peter Collins bio:

 «During his RAF career Collins rose to the rank of squadron leader, completing two frontline tours of duty flying Harriers in Germany and serving in the Falklands in 1982, flying Sea Harriers while on detachment with the navy on Illustrious. Following two years as a pilot and later team leader with the Red Arrows, in 1989 he qualified as an experimental military test pilot and was appointed Officer Commanding of the Aerospace Research Test Squadron at DRA Bedford where he worked on the Joint Strike Fighter?»

lets put this bio to bed shall we...

Collins CO'd at ARTS from 1989 to 1993 whereupon he left the service.  In that period he claims to have worked on JSF.

Note the key dates to follow:
JSF Concept Exploration commenced in 1994.  
JSF Concept Definition and Design Exploration was 1994-1996
JSF Concept Demonstration Phase was 1996-2001.

Now in most parts of the globe where reality and linear maths holds sway, 1994 comes after 1993. He'd already left the service in 93 so could not have been involved with JSF at any of the 3 critical concept paths.

JSF in 94 was a lineart concept where it still had canards and at one stage sported a single skeg tailplane - it was also a double delta.

so how in gods name can anyone claim to have functional knowledge when their bio does not match up with the actual development and concept definition dates - and more to the point, when those concept definition studies involved a paper plane that looks NOTHING like JSF today - that the plane for that period was not only different in design, but a different designation.


 
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Bluewings12       11/20/2009 3:07:08 PM
Herald , stop trolling .
May I remind you that the Rafale finished excellent second in the last 2 major sales (S-Korea and Singapore) .
Some could even argue that the Dassault fighter lost on political ground ...
Keep your biased attitude for yourself , thank you .
 
gf , do you think that Buzz Aldrin doesn 't have a clue about the Space Shuttle ?
You know what I mean ? I guess you do .
I exagerate a bit on purpose , just to say that Peter Collins deserves a bit more credit than you give him .
In 93 , the fighters were not "Red Baron" bi-planes . Harriers , Tornados , F-16s , M2000s and the 64 other types that he flew are all pretty decent jets . When he praises the flight characteristics of the Rafale , he knows what he 's talking about . When he praises the RBE2 , he also know what he 's talking about . He used the "Blue Vixen" radar for a long time (as an exemple) , he also knows the RDI and RDYand many other radars including American ones . He also praises the OSF long range TV who gives the capability to visualy ID the target , avoiding blue on blue accidents and offering the first shot in many situations .
Everything he says makes sense , but for some praising the Rafale is trolling , even when it comes from one of the finest pilot the UK had .
Behind their keyboard , some posters are simply in total denial ...
 
Cheers .
 
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