Dassault Aviation has won the “F3 R” standard development contract for the RAFALE combat aircraft, during French Defense Minister Jean- Yves Le Drian visit to its main facility today.
Negotiations were finalized with the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) on December 30, with the contract estimated about 1 billion euros. The F3 R development work will be completed in 2018.
"This is a clear signal of our commitment to invest in the Rafale, and in a very strategic sector, that of combat aviation, so as to maintain it as the best in the world," said Jean –Yves Le Drian. "It also guarantees the long term availability of a line of products that continue to meet the requirements of the export market".
This latest standard is based in particular on the integration of the METEOR long-range air-to-air missile, developed by MBDA, the PDL-NG new-generation laser designation pod by Thales and the laser-homing version of the Sagem AASM air-ground weapon. The $1.38 billion (€1 billion) contract assigns $68 million and $160 million to MBDA and Thales respectively.
It also includes other changes needed to cope with the evolving environment foreseen from about from 2018, including improvements to the weapon and navigation systems, data links, radar RBE2 and he SPECTRA electronic warfare system.
During the same flight, the aircraft can carry out different types of missions, such as ground attack and air defense. Totally versatile, the Rafale provides the capability to carry out the full range of missions that can be assigned to a combat aircraft: air superiority and air defense; attack of land and naval targets; close air support of ground troops; reconnaissance, and nuclear strike . It is also the first aircraft designed from the outset to operate both from a land base that from an aircraft carrier. It is operated by the French Air Force and the Navy.
To date, 180 production aircraft have been ordered and 126 delivered in three versions: namely 39 "M" single-seaters for the Navy, 42 "B" two-seaters and 45 "C" single-seaters for the air force. The Rafale has been deployed for combat operations in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali.
The main manufacturers involved in the production of the Rafale are Dassault Aviation, Thales, Safran and MBDA.