Rafale F3-R Standard Aircraft Enters French Service

  • Our Bureau
  • 01:13 PM, March 17, 2021
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Rafale F3-R Standard Aircraft Enters French Service
Rafale F3-R standard showing its weapons, targeting pods: Image via DGA

The French Air and Space Army and the Navy signed the operational entry-into-service agreement of the F3-R standard, the most advanced version of the Rafale jet.

The operational commissioning (MSO) of the F3-R standard is the final stage of the program which formalizes the opening of all the expected capacities.

The new features operationalized are the Meteor missile, the GBU-16 laser-guided bomb and the TALIOS targeting pod. As part of this ramp-up, the French Air and Space Army carried out its first operational flight with a Rafale equipped with Meteor war-bearing missiles on Thursday, March 4.

This flight made it possible to validate the processes for routing ammunition depots to the armament zone and then to validate the know-how during a first implementation of the missile by the gunsmiths and to confirm the operational readiness of the crews.

The Meteor missile constitutes the “long range” component of the air-to-air missile frame. It reinforces the air-to-air capacity of the Rafale in air defense and conventional or nuclear assault missions. From now on, the use of the Meteor through the standard F3-R air-to-air fire control brings a considerable gain, significantly strengthening our ability to "go in first," a press release from the French armaments agency, DGA said.

Rafale F3-R Standard Aircraft Enters French Service
French Air and Space Army and the Navy signing Rafale F3-R entry-into-service agreement

In addition, it complements the MICA missile in terms of ranges and maneuver capabilities for combat and self-defense. The GBU-16 laser-guided munition, for its part, makes it possible to supplement the air-to-ground capabilities of the Rafale by offering increased military effects.

The TALIOS pod (Targeting Long-range Identification Optronic System), currently deployed in operations, has as its main missions to search, identify, pursuit and designation of targets at ground for laser-guided air-to-ground weapons as well as intelligence gathering.

Together with the Damocles pod, it will form the backbone of the laser designation nacelles of the Mirage 2000D and Rafale. It is characterized by a quality of sensors allowing a high level of interpretation of the image while remaining at a safe distance from the targeted objectives.

The entire capability outline of the program can therefore now be used in an operational situation and changes will then be made in order to always remain at the forefront of modern technology. A new horizon opens with tenfold capacities.

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