The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) has received the first of the ten Rafale F1 naval jets upgraded to F3 standard for expanded mission capabilities on October 3, 2014.
The upgrade is intended to ensure the Navy operates a homogeneous fleet of F3 standard aircraft. It also foreshadows the Rafale’s growing role in naval aviation, as it gradually replaces the Super Etendard Modernisé (SEM), the last of which are to be retired in 2016.
The upgrade concerns the first ten Rafale, which was delivered to F1 standard, with limited air defense mission capabilities.
Valued at nearly $303.5 million, the contract includes an in-depth rework (the aircraft is fully disassembled and laid bare) to give them the same capabilities as the F3 aircraft that are currently produced. The operational advantage provided by the F3 standard results in a variety of new missions achievable after the upgrade. In addition to air defense, ground attack and in-flight refueling, F3 standard Rafale Marines are capable of anti-ship attack, reconnaissance, laser designation and autonomous illumination, and nuclear strike. Delivery of the retrofitted aircraft will be completed in 2017.
Awarded to Dassault Aviation and the Service Industriel de ’Aéronautique (SIAé), the defense ministry’s aircraft workshops, this program also involves Thales, MBDA and Sagem.