Friday, June 19, 2015

Paris Air show, Rafale static display and testbed

Besides the Rafale C performing the solo display, 3 other Rafale can be seen on the static display :

On Dassault static display:
  • The Rafale M42 with the deadly 4 Meteor / 4 Mica Air to Air loadout + an additional Exocet Missile
  • The Rafale C131 with an assymetrical GBU-24 / 3 AASM loadout + reco NG pod
On DGA static display:
  • A Rafale C with 6 laser AASM
Also present are the Mirage 2000D #676 and the "ABE-NG" testbed based on a Fokker 100. The Mirage should perform the initial trials of the new Thalès Talios pod while the Fokker will replace the 3 Mystere XX for the Rafale equipment trials. It took 5 years for the French company Sabena to modify this Fokker 100. The early field tests should start in early 2016 with the IFF-NG and new communication systems for the Rafale.
The ABE-NG features a reinforced front section able to carry 500 Kg of equipment like the RBE-2 AESA radar. The lower center fuselage can sustain a 1 tonne loadout  and the wings have also been strengthened to carry Mica and Meteor Air to Air missiles. However, no missile can be fired as it is not the purpose of this aircraft.
Although it will primarily be used to test Rafale equipments, the aircraft is completely modular and can be adaped to assess non Rafale systems as well. Each electronic bay can be sent directly to the manufacturer (they were designed to go through the Fokker main door) so that it can prepare the setup to be tested in its own facility. The bays are on the right side of the deck and 4 operator consoles are available on the left. The right seat of the cockpit can also be used to control external load (such as pods) thanks to a dedicated joystick and display. Moreover, 15 additionnal passenger seats are located at the back of the plane.




This project was driven by cost efficiency: this is one of the reasons why Sabena selected  the Fokker 100, a sturdy and easy to maintain air liner with twice the payload, more electric power and cooling capacity than the small Dassault bizzjet. Even if it is not produced anymore, the type is quite recent (late 80ies) and there is still a fleet of 160 aircrafts operated by various airlines around the world. This will insure easy support and maintenance compare to the ageing Mystere XX.

video, DDM-NG in action

On this video clip from MBDA, we can briefly see the DDM-NG imagery. The DDM-NG is the new Passive Imaging Infrared Missile Warning System (PIIMW) installed on all Rafale F3 O-4T. It produces a sperical view around the aircraft thanks to 2 IR sensors with fisheye lenses on each side of the tail fin.

Paris Air show, day one

With the noticeable absence of its 4 main western competitors (Eurofighter, Gripen, F/A-18E/F and F-35) the Rafale is clearly the star of this year Paris Air show.

The week began with the visit of French President François Hollande and his Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who played an active role in the first export successes of the jet:
In 3 months, 2 contracts were signed with Egypt (24 aicrafts) and Qatar (24 aircrafts + 12 options).
Within the same period, India also confirmed its intention to acquire quickly 36 Rafale off the shelf.

As the first export customer of the Rafale, the Egyptian delegation poses proudly in front of its future fighter jet. The Egyptian Air Force, will receive its first 3 Rafale within a month just in time for the inauguration of the new Suez Canal.
This 51st Paris Air show was a good occasion for several countries to visit the Dassault chalet, some of them quite unexpected like the Croatian Air Force delegation.


 






Saturday, June 13, 2015

Le Bourget 2015, Dassault static display takes shape

©AFP ERIC PIERMONT
The Paris Air show will take place next week (06/15 to 06/21). As usual 2 Rafale will be prensent on the Dassaut aviation's static display :












A Rafale C from the Normandie Niemen squadron with a very peculiar asymmetrical loadout :
  • 3 AASM laser missiles on the left wing
  • 1 GBU-24 Laser guided bomb on the right wing
  • 4 mica missiles
  • A model of the futur Thales Talios pod
  • 1 AEROS recce pod
  • 2 x 2000L tanks
 The Rafale M42 (F3.4+ with OSF IT, RBE-2 AESA and DDM-NG) in Air to Air / Air to sea configuration (same as las year) :
  • 4 Meteor missiles
  • 4 Mica missiles
  • 1 AM-39 exocet anti-ship missile
  • 2 x 1250L tanks
Dassault press conference

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

First export order for Thales Talios pod

Thales has announced the first export success of the Talios pod today. The customer and the quantity of pod ordered are unknown)
The Talios ("Targeting Long range Identification Optronic System") is the successor of the Damocles laser designation pod and is due to enter service in 2018 on the French Rafale F3R.

According to Jane's, the first prototype should be ready by the end of 2015 and the trials will start in 2016

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 middle 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.