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Dassault has received the F4-standard development contract for the Rafale

France has awarded Dassault Aviation a $US 2.3 billion contract for the development of the upgraded Rafale aircraft (F-4 Rafale). Part of this contract, the delivering of 28 aircraft is expected to be done by the end of 2023. Then, 30 additional upgraded Rafale could be ordered, scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2030.

France to acquire 28 upgraded Rafale aircraft 925 001 Rafale aircraft at Salon du Bourget in France (Picture source : Air Recognition)

The Rafale is a French made twin-engine delta-wing multi-role jet fighter aircraft, designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Introduced in 2000, the Rafale is being produced both for land-based use with the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations with the French Navy. It has also been marketed for export to several countries.

An F-2 version and an F-3 version of the Rafale already exist and it can also be declined in its B (two-seater version for the “Armée de l’Air”), C (single-seat version for the “Armée de l’Air”) and M (naval aircraft version for the “Aéronavale” being carrier-based) variants.

The upgraded version of this aircraft will include some of the F-4 standard’s functions (upgraded radar sensors, front sector optronics, improved capabilities in the helmet-mounted display, etc…). The F-4 standard Rafale will also be able to receive more data and strengthen its data rate.

It may also be armed with new weapons such as the MBDA’s Mica NG air-to-air missiles or the 1,000 kg AASM air-to-ground modular weapon. These weapons come in addition with the initial weapons of the Rafale, which are the MICA (air-to-air interception, combat and self-defence Beyond Visual Range missiles, in their heat-seeking and active radar homing versions), the AASM (stand-off, modular & propelled, air-to-ground precision guided weapons), the SCALP (long-range stand-off missiles), the EXOCET (anti-ship missiles), laser-guided bombs, conventional air-to-ground ordnance, an internal gun and also the METEOR (extreme long-range air-to-air missile).