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Dassault Rafale


The aircraft developed by the French company Dassault Aviation, after the Mirage 2000, the Rafale was introduced on December 4th, 2000 as a multi-role 4.5th generation jet fighter aircraft. The Rafale resembles a Eurofighter Typhoon with its canard and delta wing combination. This fighter is in use by the French Air Force and Navy.

Overview...

The Rafale is agile even in low speed flying and can operate from 400 m runways. This is attributed to its canard wings which increase the plane's maneuverability while maintaing stability. During landing, the canard wings reduce landing speed to 115 knots. However, daring pilots have achieved lower.

This plane can be used for strategic missions - meaning nuclear warfare - and it carries an ASMP nuclear stand-off missile. Also, the Rafale is qualified for the MBDA Storm Shadow / Scalp EG stand-off cruise missile as well. One normal missions, the Rafale carries a variety of weapons, 9 -14 tons for the Air Force version and 13 tons for the Navy.

The Rafale also has radar signature reduction features, meaning it is harder to detect on radar than conventional planes, but it can hardly be categorized as a true stealth aircraft.

Variants...

  • Rafale A- A technology demonstrator that first flew in 1986. It has now been retired.
  • Rafale D- Dassault used this designation (D for discret or stealthy) in the early 1990s for the production versions for the Armée de l'Air, to emphasise the new semi-stealthy features they had added to the design.
  • Rafale B- This is the two-seater version for the Armée de l'Air; delivered to EC 330 in 2004.
  • Rafale C- This is the single-seat version for the Armée de l'Air; delivered to EC 330 in June 2004.
  • Rafale M-
  1. This is the carrier-borne version for the Aéronavale, which entered service in 2002. The Rafale M weighs about 500 kg (1,100 lb) more than the Rafale C. Very similar to the Rafale C in appearance, the M differs in the following respects:
  2. Strengthened to withstand the rigors of carrier-based aviation
  3. Stronger landing gear
  4. Longer nose gear leg to provide a more nose-up attitude for catapult launches
  5. Deleted front centre pylon (to give space for the longer gear)
  6. Large stinger-type tailhook between the engines
  7. Built-in power operated boarding ladder
  8. Carrier microwave landing system
  9. "Telemir" inertial reference platform that can receive updates from the carrier systems.
  • Rafale N- The Rafale N, originally called the Rafale BM, was planned to be a two-seater version for the Aéronavale. Budget constraints and the cost of training extra crew members have been cited as the grounds for its cancellation.
Specifications...

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1–2
  • Length: 15.27 m (50.1 ft)
  • Wingspan: 10.80 m (35.4 ft)
  • Height: 5.34 m (17.5 ft)
  • Wing area: 45.7 m² (492 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 9,500 kg (C), 9,770 kg (B), 10,196 kg (M) (22 478 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 24,500 kg (C/D), 22,200 kg (M) (54,000 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2× Snecma M88-2 turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 50.04 kN (11,250 lbf) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 75.62 kN with M88-Eco >90 kN after 2010 (17,000 lbf) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed:
    • High altitude: Mach 2 (2,390 km/h, 1,290 knots)
    • Low altitude: 1,390 km/h, 750 knots
  • Range: 3,700+ km (2,000+ nmi)
  • Combat radius: 1,852+ km (1,000+ nmi) on penetration mission
  • Service ceiling: 16,800 m (55,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 304.8+ m/s (1,000+ ft/s)
  • Wing loading: 326 kg/m² (83 1/3 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 1.13

Armament

  • Guns: 1× 30 mm (1.18 in) GIAT 30/719B cannon with 125 rounds
  • Missiles:
    • Air-to-air:
      • MICA IR/EM or
      • Magic II and in the future
      • MBDA Meteor
    • Air-to-ground:
      • MBDA Apache or
      • SCALP EG or
      • AASM or
      • GBU-12 Paveway II or
      • AM 39 Exocet or
      • ASMP-A nuclear missile

Avionics

  • Thales RBE2 radar
  • Thales SPECTRA electronic warfare system.
  • Thales/SAGEM OSF (Optronique Secteur Frontal) infrared search and track system.

Data from Dassault Rafale Characteristics, French Navy Page, and the book Superfighters

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