Dassault is one step closer to signing the MMRCA contract with India after it delivered the first Rafale fighter aircraft in the Lot-4 production to the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) last week.
The aircraft is the first of 60 production Rafales, to be delivered with the new Thales RBE2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar also fitted with next-generation sensors, the new-generation missile launch detector (DDM NG) and the new front sector optronics "Identification and Telemetry.”
The Indian MMRCA tender stipulates the aircraft must have a production AESA radar and not a prototype. While none of the contending aircraft had an in-production AESA radar at the bidding stage, the Rafale delivering an AESA-equipped production aircraft to the French Air Force means that Dassault has met a key condition which should help in the negotiations currently underway prior to signing of the contract.
The inclusion of the AESA radar makes the Rafale the first European combat aircraft to use the Thales-made radar.
In operational terms, the AESA RBE2/AA (antenna active) radar can track many targets. It also allows a significant increase in detection range of enemy aircraft and a significant increase in reliability over previous-generation radars.
In air-to-air mode, a much greater sensitivity makes it possible to detect smaller targets and detects them earlier. Since the antenna comprises a very large number of active modules, the failure of some of these has no noticeable effect on the overall performance and reliability of the system.
Dassault will tailor the MMRCA Rafale after the current French Air Force’s Rafale Standard F3 Tranche; the aircraft will use complete weaponry including 60 of which are to be delivered under Tranche 4.
The first such Rafale recently began an extended validation campaign and will integrating the MBDA Meteor BVRAAM’s later this year making it the most powerful of any Rafale.
The Indian Air Force technical team will fly and test this very model once the deal is concluded with Dassault and the production of a first batch of 18 Rafale Hs is launched at Bordeaux-Mérignac.
Meanwhile, the newly delivered Rafale will be subjected to flight tests at the Mont-de-Marsan airbase in the coming days.