French fighter jet Dassault Rafale is becoming even more popular – orders just keep coming – Technology Org

The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine multirole fighter aircraft, capable of performing a wide variety of different missions. It is a highly capable canard delta wing fighter jet, in service since 2001. Even though you usually hear the news about the F-16 and other American aircraft, the Dassault Rafale is actually raking up quite a few orders now.

Dassault Rafale of the French Air Force.  This type of fighter jet has been in service since 2001.

Dassault Rafale of the French Air Force. This type of fighter jet has been in service since 2001. Image credit: Marklak via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Dassault Rafale wasn’t even meant to exist. Back in the late 1970’s France was looking to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets. It entered a program with the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain to produce a common fighter design.

This programme, which ultimately resulted in the Eurofighter Typhoon, was a huge opportunity for European powers to create their own aircraft, capable of air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, and other missions.

However, France couldn’t come to terms with some of the conditions of the deal and ultimately left the program to develop its own fighter jet – the Dassault Rafale.

The first demonstrator of the Dassault Rafale took off for its maiden flight in 1986. A version closer to production, Rafale C, took off in 1991. It took some time for the jet fighter to be developed into something combat-worthy, but in 2001 the first Dassault Rafale jets entered service.

Now Dassault Rafale is serving with Croatia, Egypt, Greece, India, Indonesia, Qatar and, of course, France. To this day around 240 Dassault Rafales have been produced.

For Dassault Aviation, the Rafale fighter jet is one of the main streams of income. And it is only growing. reports that now Dassault Aviation has 92 orders for the Rafale fighter in firm contract, but the potential orders are in the magnitude of 170.

At the moment, the most prominent buyer of the Dassault Rafale fighter jet is the United Arab Emirates, which ordered 80. Indonesia and India might expand their Rafale fleets. And then there is Colombia, which is interested, if it can afford to buy these jets. France is likely to order 42 Rafales by the end of the year as its Air Force is looking to replace the aging Dassault Mirage 2000 fleet.

The Dassault Rafale is an impressive 4th generation fighter. It is 15.27 meters long and has a wingspan of 10.90 m. It can be a single- or twin-seater. Rafale can be armed with many different missiles and bombs, depending on the mission – it has capabilities to attack other aircraft, ships, and ground targets.

Interestingly, the Dassault Rafale can also fire a nuclear missile – the French ASMP-A is not very powerful, but is meant to serve as the last-resort “warning shot” prior to full-scale employment of strategic nuclear weapons.

The Dassault Rafale, together with the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Panavia Tornado show very well that advanced fighter jets can be developed in Europe as well. In fact, work on the fifth generation successor has already started – one day the Rafale will be replaced by a stealth aircraft.


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