Dassault Rafale - Variants, Characteristics, Armament and Performance

The assessment was taking into account possible 2015 configuration, and that may have included CAPTOR AESA. In fact, the assessment considered Eurofighters radar as being better than Gripen NGs AESA radar. I could only think that would be possible with Captor-E.

I highly doubt that actually. The text speaks of the Tranche 3 P1E configuration, which integrates Stormshadow. P1E also resulted in the the signing of a development contract for the CAPTOR-E radar, but it was not yet in production.
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https://www.eurofighter.com/the-programme

It even specifies in the text that the majority of the Eurofighters upgrades were mainly for air to ground role, which the Eurofighter wasn’t really configured for at the time. CAPTOR-E was in development at the time sure, but they didn’t even start signing contracts for aircrafts with it until Kuwaits order in like, 2016?

If the P1E they spoke of in here actually had a major upgrade such as an AESA radar, it likely would’ve been mentioned alongside the expanded air to ground capabilities…

I think this summary and graph actually speaks to a few more interesting things seeing as the Rafale kind of came out of the gate with better avionics and multirole ability:

  1. Typhoon A/C performance (which I assume stand for aircraft) is classified as the highest, and by a fair margin over the Rafale scoring a 9 vs the Rafale’s 7. Theres been a lot of contention around which aircraft is “better” flight performance-wise, with Rafale fanboys often citing the F-22 “kill” video as proof its better/the best, but this seems to indicate the Eurofighter actually exceeds it in that metric.

  2. Gripen has Stellar EW for a “cheaper” alternative to the other 2 big Eurocanards, nearly matching the Rafale, and the Rafale is already quoted (by the Egyptians) to be able to brick a Su-35’s radar entirely.

  3. The Rafale is stated to be substantially better at QRA which is interesting seeing as the EF2000 (atleast according to the wiki) has some rather nutty stated figures.
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  4. The Rafale, although the overall winner, doesnt appear to be so by much at all, which is interesting due to its previously mentionned vaunted avionics and sensors. The fact the Eurofighter with its mechanically scanned radar and the gripen with its lower cost model dont really fall off much in most respects is rather impressive.

Overall, my general takeaway from this is more that the Rafale benefitted greatly from ditching the Eurofighter program by being able to focus on their own specs without having parties at odd (which was a famously an issue with the Eurofighter, and is famously an issue with any joint program with France involved because they wanna make everything in their own homegrown industry and are non-compromising on the subject). This lead to the Rafale being a more “complete” multi-role fighter out the gate, but appears to be biting them in the rear as other nations have a greater budget and wider pool of expertise for development.

I think this points more to the Rafale being better than the gripen overall (being a larger and more expensive aircraft), but likely losing the “best fighter” crown in Europe as further developments in the Eurofighter program proceeded in the mid 2010’s and with the gripen still being impressive in capabilities for its pricepoint.

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Can’t disagree with this. If it would have been getting an AESA radar, it would have been mentioned similarly as Rafale and Gripen was. That was an oversight by me.

I don’t know how you can come to this conclusion while admitting that out of all 3 configuration in the 2015, Rafale was the strongest. Furthermore, the Indian MMRCA also occured in the 2010’s and while the results haven’t been published yet, we do know the winner of that competition.

The greater budget and wider pool of expertise doesn’t help if it is bottlenecked by bureaucracy as you pointed out. It also doesn’t help that the same manufacturing countries vested with interest in the Eurofighter program are deprioritizing the plane and buying the F-35s.

The 2015 configuration it spoke of it technically a theoretical one. The P1E came out a year early instead and the P2E and P3E followed shortly after further expanding the Typhoons ground attack capabilities, with things like the excellent Brimstone missile. The Rafale (atleast to my understanding) remains predominantly constrained to using French developed weapons as the French put a massive emphasis on defensive autonomy (one of the main reasons working with them on developments is so damn hard).

I’d also argue the CAPTOR-E is likely a better radar than the RBE2-AA the Rafale runs, as not only is it a newer design, but the CAPTOR-E is an AESA radar with mechanical steering as well, allowing it much better employment angles than a fixed AESA system like the RBE2-AA. IIRC this is also something the Gripen adopted prior to the EF2000’s Captor E



The old CAPTOR-M also didnt seem to perform substantially worse according to the grade structure, and I doubt the CAPTOR-E was a slight incremental step in performance that would still have the EF2000 behind the Rafale in avionics.

The Indian MMRCA was completed only a few years (jan 2012) after the swiss decision, and had reduced the competition to the EF2000 vs the Rafale as well before the decision was made. There’s also the consideration to be had about other factors than performance, with india having stronger ties to France, and still operating the M2K as well, so without knowing why india chose what it did, its pretty hard to determine much from that decision imo.

Problem is bureaucracy is much less relevant when the plane is already built, as thats the bulk of the difficulties and where the major contracts lie. The typhoon (atleast to my understanding) can carry a wider assortment of weapons and other subsystems, and isnt constrained to using primarily/only french developed systems, which I consider an asset.

As for the F-35 comment, I dont believe thats exactly fair either. The F-35 is a stealth fighter and is a much larger program than the Eurofighter in terms of adoption. IIRC, due to widescale adoption and iteration on the jet, its actual per unit cost is lower than that of both the Eurofighter and Rafale at this point. Even then though, the Americans are being rather problematic with the F-35 currently, with news of them intentionally slowing integration of the MBDA meteor along with other weapons that are direct competitors to their own developments.

The French on the other hand would never deprioritize the Rafale because of, as stated before, their goal of defensive autonomy. I think its likely to also kill their 6th gen joint development as well in the future as France never plays nice during development.

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No disagreement here. It’s very much possible the Captor-E is ahead of the RBE2-AA. I’d expect it to be so.

I have my serious doubts about the effectiveness of the Brimstone missile once it gets added into the game. The Brimstone missile is said to have a warhead weighing only 6kg. Gaijin has stated that in lieu of information stating exactly what the explosive weight is, they go with half of the warhead weight. That would mean only 3kg of explosives which is rather pitiful. Hellfires have 8kg of explosives and still regularly only crit tanks, let alone something like a Maverick which has a warhead of 50kg explosives and still often does crits on tanks.

The Brimstone is also said to be a terrain following missile as claimed by MBDA, unlike other modern Air to ground munitions. Despite having an active radar seeker, targets hiding behind a building/objects would have the missile overshoot when it is following along terrain.

Supposedly the evaluation of the program was strictly done by the military in order to be objective, same for the MMRCA 2.0. The end decision however is done by the non-military government. So we simply just need the results of the evaluation.

We’re ignoring the fact that the RBE2-AA isn’t angled back to further improve RCS reduction as well?

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Rafale C F.2.2 suggetion linked

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I am not very well informed about the differences between the different technologies. Could you explain ?

Helmet Mounted Display or HMD by itself can just be a display that shows some information(like speed) with no other additional functionality
Helmet Mounted Sight or HMS is basically the thing that the MiG-29 has where its a simple sight which can be used to lock with the radar or aim missiles
Helmted Mounted Cueing System or HMCS often is both of these combined

but its all a bit wishy-washy because the terms are often used interchangeably

Yes, that is why I was confused :). As for the use of general HMD, I don’t really know myself, but I heard from “Ate” (former Etendrad and Rafale pilot), from his video on the rafale, that while the F4 is the first Rafale to have an HMD (or HMS I don’t really know, as I did not even know there was a difference initially), Thales had long developed some, for the Mirage 2000 but also other Rafale variant, but the DGA only bought them for the F4.
That is why, for exemple, there’s an active bug report acknowledged by the devs for possibly adding an HMS to the M2K5F currently in game

https://community.gaijin.net/issues/p/warthunder/i/SYZINwDVHueM

Exported Rafale F.3Rs received third-party modifications, incl. HMD, by some Nations. The Rafale F.4.1 standard however is the first one to come with Scorpion HMCS by default.
Its also the first world wide multicolor HMCS in Service as far as I am aware.

that is correct. i do find it weird though that they prioritized colour over binocular vision.

but for that there’s the Striker 2 ;)

well, there have been multiple attempts before that :
Topsight/Topnight → which given the TopOwl Helicopter HMD
Sagem Gerfaut → in 2004, the AdAE bought 336 for Rafale F.3 standard (serviced in 2009), and not the Rafale F.3R which was integrated in 2018.

with similar argumentation than F-5C having Flares/Chaffs - HMDS Could be added to:
Mirage 3C & Mirage F1.C → SAAF South-african HMDS (the 1st HMDS in the world)

I don’t think its going to reduce RCS by much, or increase signature more than bombs or missiles under Rafale belly

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I’m not sure if it’s worth mentioning but from what has been shown the Rafale has only ever carried 4 Meteor missiles on 4 specific hardpoints which is a pretty big limitation (although the MICA ER is shown on 10 pylons), given that its peer can carry 6 Meteor’s

French Rafale F3R boasts new Meteor “game-changer” missile - AeroTimeHere it is seen in position 6 and 10

Dassault Rafale M versus F/A-18E/F Super Hornet: carrier fighters compared  | Hush-KitHere it is seen in position 3 and 12

Dassault Rafale – The Gust of Wind – Despite COVID – All Set to Arrive on  Schedule – Air Power Asia

Here is a better diagram.

It also suggests that the idea of the Rafale having 14 hardpoints is misleading as it would appear positions 9 and 5 can only carry targeting pods, which would mean it has the same number of hardpoints as a Eurofighter with it’s targeting pod fitted.

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The diagram is incorrect and does not agree with any of my first and secondary sources.

  • 6x MICA is the maximum for F.1 → F.3R
  • 4x Meteor is the maximum as well for all after F.3R as off now
  • F.4.1 adds the capability for another two MICA, increasing the maximum to 8x MICA
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I meant to mention that the graphic is old I completely forgot that but i can’t find any sources which say the Rafale is capable of carrying more than 4 Meteor’s so we agree there.

As for MICA it appears that it can carry a theoretical maximum of 10 given that pylons 5 and 9 are for targeting pods and the underwing wet tanks cannot carry AAM’s. My guess is this has never been tested, or integrated.

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This is the second diagram I have found that suggests that the Rafale can carry 10 MICA simultaneously but upon further research it has only been pictured with MICA in 6 positions.

You could equally be right as some older secondary sources list a maximum of 6 MICA for medium-lightweight aircraft which would include the Rafale. Furthermore I have only found images with MICA on pylons 1, 2, 6, 10, 13 and 14.

Perhaps these graphics are somewhat similar to the Eurofighters ‘beast-mode’ configuration which shows a potential maximum loadout, the Rafale doesn’t seem to have ever carried MICA outside of those 6 pylons.

Would you mind sharing your sources, I don’t doubt you I am just curious now.

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I’ve seen one picture of a Rafale carrying 8 missiles total, but it doesn’t matter. This plane will be globally outclassed no matter which one they add into the game. I have no idea why france is so adverse to adding more missiles onto their airplanes.