Merignac, France, Jan. 10, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, Mr Jean-Yves le Drian, Minister for Defense, handed Mr Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, the "F3 R" standard development contract for the RAFALE combat aircraft. This event took place today on the occasion of Mr Le Drian's visit to the Dassault Aviation Mérignac plant. The contract was notified by the French defense procurement agency (DGA) on 30th December last.
The F3 R standard is an evolution of the RAFALE "F3" standard. It is part of the ongoing process to continuously improve the aircraft in line with operational requirements. It will enable Dassault Aviation to integrate the following equipment and weapons onto the RAFALE:
- The European Meteor long-range air-to-air missile produced by MBDA. This high-performance missile will achieve maximum effectiveness thanks to the "active array" radar which equips all production RAFALE aircraft delivered since mid-2013.
- The Thales PDL-NG new-generation laser designator pod. Primarily used for air-to-ground strikes, in daylight or darkness, this pod will further enhance the high degree of precision that the RAFALE has achieved since its first engagements (in 2007 in the Afghan theatre).
- The laser homing version of the Sagem AASM Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon. This family of weapons, with GPS primary guidance and an additional booster, is unmatched. It was used by the RAFALE during operations in Libya (2011) to destroy targets at ranges of several tens of kilometers with metric precision. The laser homing version is particularly adapted to moving targets.
F3 R will also include upgrades to RAFALE sensors and to systems ensuring total interoperability.
The launch of the F3 R standard:
- guarantees that French forces will continue to have a high-performance aircraft adapted to their requirements.
- reinforces the strong points of the RAFALE in export competitions.
- contributes to maintaining the competences of the design bureaux of Dassault Aviation and its industrial partners at a world-class level.
- confirms the ongoing improvement process and opens the way to future developments for France and export customers.
Validation of the F3 R standard is scheduled for 2018.
Dassault Aviation and the 500 French firms associated with the RAFALE program thank the Ministry of Defense, the DGA, the French Air Force and the French Navy for their confidence.
About the RAFALE
The only totally "omnirole" aircraft in the world, able to operate from a land base or an aircraft carrier, capable of carrying 1.5 times its weight in weapons and fuel, the RAFALE has been designed to perform the full spectrum of combat aircraft missions:
- Interception and air-to-air combat using a 30-mm gun, Mica IR/EM missiles and Meteor missiles (as of 2018).
- Close air support using a 30-mm gun, GBU-12/24 laser-guided bombs, AASM and GBU-49 GPS-guided bombs (used in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali).
- Deep strike using Scalp-Storm Shadow cruise missiles (used in Libya).
- Maritime strike using the Exocet AM39 Block 2 missile and other air-to-surface weapons.
- Real-time tactical and strategic reconnaissance using the Areos pod (used in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali).
- Buddy-buddy in-flight refueling
- Nuclear deterrence using the ASMP-A missile.
The RAFALE entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006, gradually replacing the seven types of previous-generation combat aircraft. Of the 180 aircraft ordered by France to date, 126 have been delivered. The RAFALE fleet currently totals almost 120,000 flight hours, including 16,000 in operations. Since mid-2013, production RAFALE aircraft are equipped with an active array RBE2 AESA radar from Thales.
About Dassault Aviation
With more than 8,000 military and civil aircraft delivered to 83 countries over the past 60 years, and having logged nearly 28 million flight hours to date, Dassault Aviation can offer recognized know-how and experience in the design, development, sale and support of all types of aircraft, from the Rafale fighter to the Falcon range of high-end business jets, as well as military unmanned air systems. In 2012, Dassault Aviation reported revenues of €3.94 billion, with around 11,600 employees.
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 The Rafale is the only operational European combat aircraft equipped with an "Active Electronically Scanned Array": the Thales RBE2 AESA (read "Dassault Aviation-Thales" Press Release dated October 2, 2012).
 Partial integration of this weapon was already performed as an "urgent operational requirement" for the French intervention in Mali.
Dassault Aviation: RAFALE "F3 R" standard launched http://hugin.info/143388/R/1753866/591720.pdf