Dassault Rafale A

The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.

In the late 1970s, the French Air Force and French Navy were seeking to replace and consolidate their existing fleets of aircraft. In order to reduce development costs and boost prospective sales, France entered into an arrangement with the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain to produce an agile multi-purpose “Future European Fighter Aircraft” (which would become the Eurofighter Typhoon).

Subsequent disagreements over workshare and differing requirements led to France’s pursuit of its own development programme. Dassault built a technology demonstrator which first flew in July 1986 as part of an eight-year flight-test programme, paving the way for the go-ahead of the project. The Rafale is distinct from other European fighters of its era in that it is almost entirely built by one country, involving most of France’s major defence contractors, such as Dassault, Thales and Safran.

Many of the aircraft’s avionics and features, such as direct voice input, the RBE2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the optronique secteur frontal infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, were domestically developed and produced for the Rafale programme. Originally scheduled to enter service in 1996, the Rafale suffered significant delays due to post-Cold War budget cuts and changes in priorities. There are three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.

Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Egyptian Air Force, the Indian Air Force, the Qatar Air Force, the Hellenic Air Force, the Croatian Air Force, the Indonesian Air Force and the United Arab Emirates Air Force. The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria.

The Rafale A is a technology plane demonstrator. It’s first flew was in 1986.

Manufacturer: Dassault Aviation (France)

First flight: 4 July 1986

Crew: 1 pilot

Length: 15.27 m (50 ft 1 in)

Wingspan: 10.90 m (35 ft 9 in)

Height: 5.34 m (17 ft 6 in)

Powerplant: 2 × Snecma M88-4e turbofans

Max speed: 1,912 km/h (1,188 mph; 1,032 kn) / Mach 1.8

Range: 2,350 km (1,460 mi; 1,268 nmi)

Ceiling: 18,000 m (59,055 ft)

Weight: 10,300 kg (22,708 lb)

Armament: 1 autocannon GIAT 30/M791 (30 mm) + air-to-air missiles Matra Magic II + air-to-surface missiles MBDA Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG + nuclear missile ASMP-A

Bourget Museum (ParisFrance)

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