Dassault Rafale M F.3R - The Meteor of the French Marine
Hi and welcome to my 8th suggestion, which is about the Dassault Rafale M F.3R
After I already suggested other vehicles, the Flankers, the german Leopard ATD, Rafale M LF.1 and now its time for more Rafale´s.
First of all:
- This a suggestion for an Aircraft we could see in game at some point in the Future , that doesn´t mean next Patch or somewhere in the near Future
- I don´t want to force Gaijin to rush Top-tier air in any way
- Feel free to share more Data and / or correct me if something is wrong
- Discuss respectfully, any aggressive kind or verbal abuse will be reported, the Forum rules also apply here
In 1977, the Armée de l’air took up the idea of a modern fighter aircraft, now to be put into service after 1990, under the project title Avion de Combat Tactique (ACT). The aim was to build on the ACF project and adopt the design as a twin-engine delta aircraft with fly-by-wire control. A year later, the Marine Nationale launched the Avion de Combat Marine (ACM) project to finally replace the F-8E(FN). In 1979 there was talk for the first time about merging the two French projects and the projects from Great Britain and Germany into one European project. All three companies involved – Dassault, MBB and BAe – each developed their own design for this European project. In 1983 the EAP (Experimental Aircraft Program) prototype was presented, developed under the auspices of BAe and combining BAe’s ACA (Agile Combat Aircraft) design with MBB’s TKF90 design. Dassault, on the other hand, presented its own revised design in 1983 based on the ACT and ACM under the name Avion de Combat eXpérimental (ACX). Although the inability to agree on a design was already evidence of significant differences, two cooperation agreements for the development of a European Fighter Aircraft (EFA) were signed in late 1983 and late 1984 between Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and Spain. By this point, a few basic principles had been agreed upon: Canard delta design, two engines and Fly-by-Wire (FBW) control.
Despite this, it was still not possible to agree on uniform specifications or on the division of labor. France wanted a smaller, cheaper, multi-role fighter with strong short-takeoff capabilities that would be better suited to operations from the relatively small French carriers and should have better export prospects, while Germany and Great Britain wanted a fighter that was as capable and agile as possible. In August 1985, the negotiations finally failed, whereupon the French Defense Minister at the time, Charles Hernu, announced that France would withdraw from the EFA program and develop the ACX on its own until it was ready for series production. The remaining four nations developed the EFA into today’s Eurofighter.
After the decision in 1987 to further develop the Rafale A into a series aircraft, the contract for development with an industrial consortium was signed on April 21, 1988. In addition to Dassault, this consisted of Thomson-CSF (today Thales Group) and Snecma (today Safran). For further testing, four near-series prototypes were built, which were equipped with extensive test instrumentation. On December 12, 1991 and November 8, 1993, respectively, the two naval single-seater prototypes Rafale M 01 and M 02 flew for the first time.
In the Navy in particular, there were concerns about the availability of an adequate fighter aircraft: the F-8 Crusader had already been procured in the mid-1960s and could not be kept in service until 1993, while the Rafale would not be available until 1998 at the earliest . The Navy would therefore have preferred the procurement of the quickly available US McDonnell Douglas F/A-18. However, this raised fears that a corresponding reduction in the number of units on the Rafale would make this project too expensive. Instead, therefore, some of the F-8 Crusaders and the Dassault Super Étendard were subjected to life extension and modernization. The F-8 could thus be used until 1999, which, however, still led to a gap of around two years in which hardly any fighter aircraft were available.
The F.3R standard was first announcent in 2014, along with Sail Point 3 introduction, however the validation and service introduction were made in 2018.
The Rafale M is very similar to the Rafale C, the only really visible differences being taller, longer nose gear with catapult attachment fixtures, and fit of a stinger-type arresting hook under the tail. The Rafale M received a longer nose gear, which gave a nose-up attitude on the ground, in order to operate from aircraft Carriers. This specific gear is made by Bugatti.
The Rafale M required a much more formidable hook since a carrier jet snags the cable at full throttle in case the landing is a “bolter”, and the aircraft has to come around for another try. Other changes to the Rafale M included a stronger airframe and main gear to withstand “smackdown” landings on carriers; a built-in, power-operated pilot boarding ladder; a carrier microwave landing system that made landings much easier than with earlier French carrier aircraft. The modifications to the Rafale M added about 500 kilograms to its empty weight relative to the Rafale C. In the interests of commonality with other Rafale variants, the Rafale M did not have folding wings.
Thank to the F.3R standard, the Rafale M gets access to the whole french arsenal and modernizations. Compared to the previous main standard (F.2.2), the new F.3R gives us access to anti-ship missiles, an improved SPECTRA self-defense system, two additional pylons for MICA missile - thank to the new Sail Point 3 modification, AASM-IIR and AASM-L, GBU-12 & 22 LGBs, the newer TALIOS targeting pod as well as the AESA versions of the RBE2 Radar.
The F.3R standard is the most successfull one when it comes to Rafale exports, however, the Rafale M has not been exported to other countries. Its still worth to mention that the Rafale B and C have been exported in high number to other countries with either default stats or with customer specific enhancements, India´s Rafale EH and DH, Qatar´s Rafale EQ and DQ as well as Egpyt´s Rafale EM and DM.
The Rafale’s armament is expanded by almost every standard. The F.3R standard is one of the most modern and, in addition to the new F.4.1, brought many changes with it. In terms of armament, the MBDA Meteor, GBU-16, Mk.81 / 82 / 83 bombs and AM39 Block II Mod.2 AShM are available with this standard. But what is already there should not be underestimated.
- 6x MICA IR
- 6x MICA EM
- 4x MBDA Meteor
- 6x AASM-GPS / -L / -IIR
- 6x GBU-12
- 4x GBU-16
- 6x GBU-22
- 3x GBU-24
- 6x Mk.81
- 6x Mk.82
- 4x Mk.83
- 3x SCALP-EG
- 1x AM39 Block II Mod. 2
- Crew: 1
- Length: 15.3 m
- Wingspan: 10.9 m
- Height: 5.34 m
- Wing area: 46.0 m2
- Empty weight: 10.196 kg
- Loaded weight: 14.000 kg
- Max. takeoff weight: 19.500 kg
- Powerplant: 2 × SNECMA M88-2E4
- Dry thrust: 50 kN
- Thrust with afterburner: 75 kN
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.9
- 1400 km/h at sea level
- 2130 km/h at altitude
- Service ceiling: 16.763 m
- Rate of climb: 305 m/s
- Wing loading:
- Min.: 224 kg/m²
- Mid.: 322 kg/m²
- Max.: 536 kg/m²
- Max.: 1,50
- Min.: 0,62
- Maximum g-load: +9g / -3.2g
Thanks for your time, hope you liked it
[Will add more if there are some (more) important / declassified things]
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Books / Other:
Eurofighter Typhoon & Dassault Rafale by Greg Goebel (2016)
Jane´s All the World´s Aircraft 2011 - 2012
Jane´s All the World´s Aircraft 2007 - 2008
Canard Aeronautics & Rocket-Powered Aircrafts by Roselle Rosen and Gisele Fowlkes