As the development and integration of a new-standard Rafale fighter, the F3R gets underway by Dassault, its impact on the Indian MMRCA procurement could be significant.
With the current official information on the Indian deal being that ‘negotiations are underway’, it might just be possible that the Indian side might look at the F3R configuration seriously before freezing the aircraft configuration.
The $20 billion deal with Dassault has been delayed more than 22 months now for various reasons including not reaching an agreement over the aircraft’s lead integrator and offsets.
The new F3R standard Rafale will include a new-generation laser targeting pod and major software changes. The upgrades will complement the enhanced Thales RBE2 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar which will allow the aircraft to deploy the MBDA Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), along with improvements to the aircraft’s Thales SPECTRA self-defence system and Mode-5/Mode-S-compatible Identification Friend or Foe interrogator/transponder.
The logic driving the Rafale program builds on ongoing developments to adapt the aircraft to changing requirements by developing successive “standards” needed to cope with the evolving environment foreseen from about 2018, including improvements to the weapon and navigation systems, data links, radar RBE2 and the SPECTRA electronic warfare system, according to excerpts of a Dassault statement.
The upgrade will allow the aircraft can carry out different types of missions, such as ground attack and air defense and will be 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 .
Media reports say that under the terms of the MMRCA, the Rafale will come with two Scalp cruise missiles. New Thales RBE2 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar will be fitted with next-generation sensors, the new-generation missile launch detector (DDM NG) and the new front sector optronics "Identification and Telemetry.”
India has yet to take a call on the final list of missiles that will go on the Rafale. It stands to reason that the higher level version will be brought over the lower level version to bridge the gap between the initial procurement request and the final configuration.