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Dassault Rafale

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Dassault Rafale 113-GT in flight at the 2013 Royal International Air Tattoo on July 20th, 2013.
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine delta-wing fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Dassault described the Rafale as being an omnirole fighter. The Rafale is a multirole combat aircraft; capable of simultaneously undertaking air supremacy, interdiction, reconnaissance, and airborne nuclear deterrent missions. 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.

In the late 1970s, the French Air Force and Navy were seeking to replace and consolidate their current fleets of aircraft. In order to reduce development costs and boost prospective sales, France entered into an arrangement with four other European nations to produce an agile multi-purpose fighter, but subsequent disagreements over workshare and differing requirements led to France's pursuit of its own development program. Dassault built a technology demonstrator which first flew in July 1986 as part of an eight-year flight-test program, paving the way for the go-ahead of the project.

The Rafale's design and production processes exploited the unprecedented advancements in software technology; these have enabled the integration of formerly individual components and combined with intelligent automated analysis processes, known collectively as data fusion. Many of the aircraft's avionics and features, such as direct voice input (DVI), the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the Optronique secteur frontal (OSF) infra-red search and track sensor, were indigenously developed and produced for the Rafale programme. Originally scheduled to enter service in 1996, post-Cold War budget cuts and changes in priorities contributed to significant delays to the programme.

Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. It has also been marketed for export to several countries, including selection by the Brazilian Air Force and Navy.

The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, and Mali; features such as the SPECTRA integrated defensive-aids system have been crucial advantages in these theatres. Several upgrades to the radar, engines, and avionics of the Rafale are planned to be introduced in the near-future.

The M88 turbofans are currently being upgraded to generate 13,500 lbf (60 kN) dry and 20,700 lbf (92 kN) on the afterburners.

Users[edit]

  • Brazil
    • Brazilian Air Force x 60
    • Brazilian Navy
      • Brazilian Naval Aviation x 48
  • Egypt
    • Egyptian Air Force x 36
  • France
    • Armée de l'Air x 256
    • Marine Nationale
      • Aeronavale x 96
  • India
    • Indian Air Force x 168
  • Libya
    • Libyan Air Force x 18
  • Malaysia
    • Malaysian Air Force x 40
  • Portugal
    • Portuguese Air Force x 36
  • Qatar
    • Qatar Emiri Air Force x 36
  • Switzerland
    • Swiss Air Force x 22
  • United Arab Emirates
    • United Arab Emirates Air Force x 60
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