Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rafale fires its first laser AASM during a combat mission

AASM laser seeker
Air&Cosmos has revealed that an AASM with the new laser guidance kit (SBU-54) was fired for the fist time by a Rafale during a strike mission over Irak (Chamal operation) on May 11th 2015.
This new version of the SAGEM stand off missile, qualified 1 year ago,  add a laser sensor to the default INS/GPS guiding system of the weapon, allowing accurate targeting of fast moving ground vehicules up to 80 Km/h.

Sources :
Air&Cosmos
www.ainonline.com

Friday, May 15, 2015

Sniper advanced targeting pod to be intergrated on Rafale ?

Rafale B carrying a Lockheed Martin Sniper pod
Keen observers must have spotted that the Rafale illustrating our previous article was carrying a peculiar Laser Designation pod, very different from the Damocles LDP usually mounted on the French fighter.

Apparently, this "photoshop montage" officially released by Dassault Aviation was a first hint of a possible future integration of the Lokheed Martin AN/AAQ-33 Sniper advanced targeting pod on Qatari Rafale.

2 Days ago, IHN Jane's published an article confirming that the american pod integration was indeed being discussed for export Rafale customers. Jane's points out that Egypt already operates the Sniper on its F-16 and could logically wish to use them on its 24 Rafale fighter jets.

Moreover, the UAE could also be interested by the Sniper in case of a Rafale purchase. They currently use the Damocles on their Mirage 2000-9 and the Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-32 pod on their F-16E/F, but some of these "Desert Falcon" would have been recently spotted with sniper pods as well. This could indicate that this equipement is being tested by the Emirate state.

Although the Thales Damocles used by the Rafale today is able to operate efficiently at very long range, day or night in chalanging weather conditions, it lacks the high resolution NIR/visible channel of the Lockheed Martin Sniper which is particularly adapted to current air operations in the midle east. Indeed, it allows accurate identification of vehicles and individuals on the ground, even in cluterred hurban zones.
This would explain why a Sniper integration is asked by Rafale customers who can't wait for the Damocles upgrade (Talios) due to enter service in 2018.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Dassault on the Qatar deal

It's official, French President François Hollande Will go to Doha next Monday to oversee the signature of a deal estimated at € 6.3 billion  for 24 aircrafts (and 12 options), weapons and pilot training in France.

Qatar had been actively negociating with France for 2 years and the decision would have been finaly taken by Cheikh Tamim ben Hamad Al Thani on April 21st during the last visit of French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Qatar.



Here is the Tweet by Dassault, and the press release :

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Qatar has chosen the Rafale 

Saint-Cloud, France, April 30, 2015 - Dassault Aviation is honored by Qatar’s decision to acquire 24 Rafale aircraft to equip its Air Force. The contract between the State of Qatar and Dassault Aviation is to be signed on Monday, May 4 in Doha in the presence of Mr. François Hollande, President of the French Republic. Following on from the Mirage F1, the Alpha Jet and the Mirage 2000, the Rafale is set to extend the historic partnership between Qatar, France and Dassault Aviation.
“This new success for the French team demonstrates the Rafale’s operational qualities and confirms the confidence that countries, that are already users of the Mirage 2000, have in our company”, said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.
Dassault Aviation, its partners Thales and Safran, and the 500 companies associated with the Rafale programme, are delighted at the announcement of this new contract, constituting further proof of their competitiveness and their industrial and technological know-how.
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This is is the third Rafale order in 3 months for a total of 84 aircrafts.
  • Egypt : 24 aircrafts (Announced on 2015/02/12 ; contract signed 2015/02/16)
  • India : 36 aircrafts (Announced on 2015/04/10 ; contract still to be signed)
  • Qatar : 24 aircrafts (Announced on 2015/04/30 ; contract to be signed on 2015/05/04)
Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, indicated today that Egypt and Qatar jets can be delivered by just delaying the French orders. However the production will have to double (22 aicrafts / year) when India will have formaly signed ; a significant production increase that would generate thousands of new jobs in the French aerospace industry.

Sources :
www.lopinion.fr
www.franceinfo.fr
aviationweek.com
www.defense-aerospace.com
foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com 

Successful Meteor firing

First guided meteor launch form a Rafale B
Also note the white satcom antenna behind the cockpit
As reported by Helen Chachaty, on the 28th of May, Rafale successfully fired its first guided Meteor from the Biscarosse firing range in the South west of France.


According to Air & Cosmos, the missile was attached to a rear station under belly.

Separation trials were already conducted in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and the missile is espected to enter into French Air Force and Navy service in 2018 when it will complement the current medium range Mica Missile.
Source : DGA

The Meteor Missile made by MBDA



Qatar to sign a deal for 24 Rafale on May the fourth of 2015

After several reports about the interest of Qatar in Rafale during the last years, the French presidency announces that François Hollande will go to Qatar on Monday so as to attend the signing of the contract for 24 Rafale (and 12 options).

Source : www.elysee.fr

Those Rafale are supposed to replace the 12 Mirage 2000-5.






For the record :
Rafalenews 2014/11 : Qatar could buy 24 Rafale
Rafalenews 2012/10 : Qatar set to replace its Mirage 2000-5
Rafalenews 2012/04 : Qatar interested too

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

India, first Rafale delivery expected in 18 months ?

A French Air Force Rafale squadron
According to IHS Jane's, Dassault might more than double the Rafale production rate in order to deliver the 36 aircrafts to the IAF within 3 years with a first delivery expected at the end of 2016.

"Industry sources familiar with the ongoing talks between the two governments told IHS Jane's that Dassault is reported to have agreed to more than double its annual Rafale building capacity from 11 to 24 aircraft. The company had slowed down Rafale production rate to around 11 platforms per year as no new orders were forthcoming.
The French government is also believed to have persuaded its air force to reduce its Rafale induction until the IAF contract is fulfilled.
Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar told the Mail Today newspaper on 16 April that the accounting process for the Rafales would be completed within 2-3 months and deliveries would begin in 18 months. "So roughly it [the contract] will take three years," he said."

Friday, April 10, 2015

India wants to buy 36 Rafale off the shelf

Prime Minister Modi and President Hollande ©LaProvence
Paris, April 10th 2015
During the first day of his Visit in France, India Prime Minister Narenda Modi officialy announced that India will buy 36 Rafale "ready to fly":

“Keeping in mind critical operational necessity of fighter jets in India, I have talked to him [F. Hollande] and requested for 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible under government-to-government deal”  




This new agreement between France and India is therefore a big change from the original MMRCA deal : 126 jets among which only 18 were to be built in France. Some sources indicate that this first batch of 36 Rafale would be, in fact, the option part of the MMRCA (which was about a possible order of 63 Rafale in addition to the 18+108 other airframes) but it may also be a completly separate deal. 

Apparently, this new contract will not replace the project to build a Rafale assembly line in India but it will allow a quick delivery of a big first batch of jets to the Indian Air Force which can't wait anymore to replace some of its older Mig-21 and Mig-27.
Prime Minister Modi told that the exact terms (price and delivery schedule) of this new contract are still to be discussed by the  two parties but according to his official announcement this morning, he wants the jets as quickly as possible.

This is a very good news for Dassault Aviation and its workforce in France. When this new order will be signed, Dassault will have an order book of 60 Rafale for the export market only (24 for Egypt + 36 for India) and will most probably have to increase (double ?) the production rate of the Rafale assembly line which is currently one aircraft per month.

Sources :
Dassault Press release
aviationweek.com
www.livefistdefence.com
www.thehindu.com
www.laprovence.com

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