Military History | How To Make War | Wars Around the World Rules of Use How to Behave on an Internet Forum
Fighters, Bombers and Recon Discussion Board
   Return to Topic Page
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
 
Quote    Reply

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
Pages: PREV  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34   NEXT
warpig       11/27/2009 3:39:57 PM

Sorry Warpig I think I have misread your last post. Appologise

 

 



It's all good.
 
Quote    Reply

Bluewings12       11/27/2009 3:55:41 PM
MK knows more than I do and his english is better than mine .
 
Cheers .
 
Quote    Reply

gf0012-aust       11/27/2009 4:26:18 PM

MK : ""It has been confirmed that the 9 Rafale F1 aircraft currently stored will be upgraded to F3 standard.""

 Yes . I ' ve learned this yesterday and I was surprised by the cost : 30M Euros per aircraft . I know what difference there is in between a F1 and a F3 but I find it a wee bit expensive . Sure , the latest systems cost a leg but the F1 wiring ~as an exemple~ is ready to accept the F3 standard . On the other hand , every computer system onboard the F1 has to be changed as well as some critical parts of Spectra . The new software integration for the new modes of the RBE2 F3 fire control system with Exocet Mk2 , Nuclear ASMP-A , Meteor , Damoclès pod , Recco-NG pod , etc , should be a piece of cake .

I was expecting 20M per aircraft , not 30M .

MK, thanks for that.  the following is for you even though its BW making the commentary.

as you would know its not just an issue of "wiring" and the added on cost of the new widgets.  In effect the entire aircraft has to be reharnessed.  this is not a tricial task especially when you are dealing with distributed sensor systems.   depdning on the location of those distributed sensors (eg wing panels etc...) then it means that the entire sheet metal has to be lifted.  if it involves compounds then those panels usually require further processes and handling requirements as well

when you "zero" the frame you are basically rebuilding as its a complete body off approach.  because zero framing is expensive it usally means that any other maint will be bought forward to take advantage of the rebuild.

and btw, its not a piece of cake - which is why it takes so long and why it can run to end of match tennis game numbers at final cost.
 
Quote    Reply

Bluewings12       11/27/2009 6:01:58 PM
gf , while your post does make sense , you don 't know what work has to be done to turn a Raf F1 into a F3 . Sorry to say .
 
Of course we have to take various panels off because everything is internal on Rafale . On the other hand (and you probably know it) the integration of the various systems as well as their maintenance is one of the Rafale outstanding feature .
I will not post again pdf files , drawings and pictures to show and demonstrate one more time the excellence of the blue prints .
It is why I said that 30M Euros sounds expensive to me . You simply do not know enough about the Rafale program to really understand what I am saying , again sorry to say . No bad intended .
Here in France and for the ones interested , it is a known fact that Dassault 's bills are an half joke . A bolt or a screw driver with "Dassault" writen on it is 3 times more expensive than a screw driver from Facom (top quality here in France) . I am sure that you know what I mean gf .
From what I 've heard , it takes about a week to turn a F1 into a F3 .
 
Cheers .
 

 

 
Quote    Reply

gf0012-aust       11/27/2009 6:16:31 PM
From what I 've heard , it takes about a week to turn a F1 into a F3 .


F2 to F3 conversions were taking 30+ days and some were 90+ days.  The F2 was basically sympathetic to the F3 conversion.  The F1 is not in the same state of conversion and/or migration readiness as the F2.
It will take substantially more than a week.
 




 





 
Quote    Reply

Bluewings12       11/27/2009 6:16:49 PM
I don 't know much about the maintenance of various US or Russians fighters (?) , things like how much time it takes to change a SH or F-22 engine , or to change the radar , PSU , ECM mainframe computer , etc ...
 
What I know is how long it takes on the Rafale and I can tell you that you can change one of the engine , the radar , the mainframe computer , the ejection seat and the main PSU in less than two and an half hours .
It takes three Teams (15 persons) working on the aircraft .
 
Cheers .
 
Quote    Reply

Bluewings12       11/27/2009 6:20:05 PM
gf :
""F2 to F3 conversions were taking 30+ days and some were 90+ days.""
 
Where did you get that ?
 
Cheers .
 
Quote    Reply

gf0012-aust       11/27/2009 6:25:01 PM
Of course we have to take various panels off because everything is internal on Rafale . On the other hand (and you probably know it) the integration of the various systems as well as their maintenance is one of the Rafale outstanding feature .

I will not post again pdf files , drawings and pictures to show and demonstrate one more time the excellence of the blue prints .
it's got nothing to do with module replacement and the associated modularity of the sensors and boxes.  the harness is the issue.  the harness does not have complete modularity.  it can't.  thats because there are section requirements in the system that require different components to be sealed between frames against fire and gas intrusion.  ie the separation blocks are fire resistant and are made of a set conformal compound where the cable runs are embedded in the block at a particular junction point.  so to fix it you have to replace the harness and the block gates.

in addition, the F1's did not come harnessed for the complete distributed sensor picture on the F3's.  You just cannot add components to the end of the existing harness.  you have to physically replace it.  that means that it is a "platform off" rebuild.

"Platforms off" are essentially zero frame rebuilds.  It's not plug and play
 
Quote    Reply

gf0012-aust       11/27/2009 6:36:21 PM

gf : "F2 to F3 conversions were taking 30+ days and some were 90+ days."

Where did you get that ?

From Dassault. Some of it based on the total F2's identified for conversion.  It's also the start of the conversion program.  the final delivery at the end of the conversion program.  Average build rates can be established by the start-end dates divided by units.  There is also the fact that the first planes were difficult (and indeed the first conversion is always the production mule for subsequent conversions) and took longer than expected.  

Like all these things (incl centre barrel replacement type scenarios) the conversion will get faster towards the end of the run. 


 
Quote    Reply

gf0012-aust       11/27/2009 6:49:28 PM
What I know is how long it takes on the Rafale and I can tell you that you can change one of the engine , the radar , the mainframe computer , the ejection seat and the main PSU in less than two and an half hours . 

It takes three Teams (15 persons) working on the aircraft .
its got little to do with major components.  its a harnessing and connectivity issue..  major components are made to be swapped out quickly in modern platforms.  even the RAAF F-111's when digitised had FRU components installed where a component could be swapped in under 2 minutes.  It's got little to do with core FRU components or engines.  

btw, the record churn for changing a Harrier engine at a bare bones (rough site) was 45 minutes.

as a rough analogy think of an aircraft like a human body.  sure we can replace limbs and do operations in emergency timeframes, but we cannot replace the entire capilliary roadmap in the human body without causing substantial system shock and grief.  the harness is the equiv of the capilliary system in the human body.

to add and update the cpability means ensuring that the aircrafts capilliary system is not only connected, but extended to new locations.

again.  adding the sensors is the least difficult part of the conversion process.  getting the new harnesses in place, tested, tested for redundancy against co-located and sympathetic systems, and then tested against the whole system is the issue.

the time is in the redundancy testing and the physical reharnessing - its not in installing a point sensor.
 
Quote    Reply
PREV  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34   NEXT



 Latest
 News
 
 Most
 Read
 
 Most
 Commented
 Hot
 Topics