The brand new normal brings main functionality upgrades which pave the way in which for collaborative air fight.
The French Directorate Basic of Armaments (DGA) introduced that the brand new Rafale F4.1 normal has been certified and is now prepared for fielding. Whereas the announcement was launched simply few days in the past, the qualification arrived on March 13, 2023, shortly after the primary plane within the new configuration was delivered to the Base Aérienne 118 at Mont-de-Marsan.
“The primary aircraft we obtained is likely one of the F3Rs that we despatched to the Flight Check Heart of the Directorate Basic of Armaments, in Istres, for his or her software program transformation”, explains Lieutenant Colonel Guillaume, second answerable for the Fighter and Experimentation Squadron (ECE). “Different model new plane will come instantly from the Dassault manufacturing strains, and can full the fleet of fighters despatched steadily to Istres for his or her transition from the F3R normal to the F4.1.”
The primary Rafale F4.1 has been assigned to the Centre d’Experience Aérienne Militaire (Navy Air Experience Heart), followed by a second aircraft a week later, the place it instantly began operational testing the day after the supply. As talked about by Lt. Col. Guillaume, the DGA confirmed all of the Rafales of the Air and House Pressure and the French Navy might be steadily retrofitted to this new normal. Dassault additionally resumed the deliveries of new Rafales to French navy, after a four-year interruption.
The event of the Rafale F4 normal began in early 2019, when the contract for the brand new improve was notified by the Ministry of Protection quickly after the certification of the F3-R standard. “This normal relies on 4 pillars: connectivity, engagement, availability, and the detection and battle in opposition to threats,” stated the Minister of the Armed Forces in that event. “This F4 normal is a technological leap, an industrial leap, a strategic leap.”
In accordance with the DGA, enhancing the connectivity of the Rafale and the related networked employment strategies, each in a nationwide and allied context, is the first aim of the F4 normal. The brand new normal would be the first step in direction of the networked multi-platform capabilities of the longer term Système de Combat Aérien Futur (SCAF).
The F4 normal will embody upgrades of current capabilities, just like the Thales RBE2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, the Spectra (Système de Safety et d’Évitement des Conduites de Tir du Rafale or, in English, Self-Safety Gear Countering Threats to Rafale Plane) digital warfare system, the OSF (Optronique secteur frontal/ frontal sector optronics), the InfraRed Search and Monitor (IRST), the Thales Talios concentrating on pod, the Reco NG reconnaissance pod and the communications suite.
Nonetheless, there may even be essential new capabilities, just like the Thales Scorpion Helmet Mounted Show (HMD), the MICA NG (Subsequent-Technology) air-to-air missile and the brand new 1000 kg variant of the Safran AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire) “Hammer” Precision-Guided Munition (PGM). Most of the new capabilities have been extensively examined throughout a test campaign in 2021, the place two Rafale 4.1 have been included in large-scale life like situations, the place the crews additionally carried out unspecified collaborative fight functionalities to localize adversaries by passive means.
The HMD is a long-waited functionality for the Rafale. Initially, the Sagem Gerfaut HMD was chosen within the early 2000s to equip the Rafale, nevertheless this system was later dropped. In accordance with experiences, Qatar and India requested for an HMD on their plane, so the Elbit Targo II was built-in on the Rafale. France, nevertheless, chose to integrate the Scorpion, with a primary check marketing campaign carried out in Cazaux throughout March 2021, preceded by parachute compatibility exams to confirm that the brand new helmet is protected for the pilot within the occasion of an ejection.
As for the 1000 kg AASM, the brand new variant sees the AASM package utilized on the BLU109 penetrator warhead or the usual Mk-84, but additionally to new developments in progress from the French firm ARESIA (BA84 and P1000 bomb our bodies), in response to the mission’s wants. The primary separation exams have been carried out in December 2020 on the DGA Flight check middle in Cazaux.
The brand new AASM variant has have additionally a selected vary improve package to increase its stand-off firing vary and was certified at the end of 2022. The Rafale will be capable of carry as much as three of those bombs, of which one underneath the fuselage and two underneath the wings, equally to the already licensed GBU-24 Paveway III.
The Talios targeting pod has also been upgraded, as introduced by the DGA in November 2022 with the supply of the thirty first pod, which is the primary of the upgraded variant. Among the many new capabilities, the pod has a high-definition mode, which integrates a close to infrared imager and a coloration wide-field sensor (anticipated to be absolutely exploited by the Rafale 4.2 normal), and an built-in datalink.
Among the many different modifications, the DGA talked about the evolution of passive menace detection algorithms, elevated information change capacities between Rafales, larger safety in opposition to cyber threats and enhancements in hearth management for using the Meteor missile, with the missile managed by an plane apart from the firing plane. The Meteor missile was introduced with the F3-R standard and have become operational in 2021, meant for use together with the MICA EM for lengthy vary engagements.