The Dassault Rafale (French pronunciation: [ʁafal], literally meaning "gust of wind",[3] or "burst of fire" in a more military sense)[4] is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. It is referred to as an "omnirole" 4.5th generation aircraft by Dassault.

In the late 1970s, the French Air Force and French Navy sought to replace and consolidate their existing fleets of aircraft. In order to reduce development costs and boost prospective sales, France entered into an arrangement with the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain to produce an agile multi-purpose "Future European Fighter Aircraft" (which would become the Eurofighter Typhoon). Subsequent disagreements over workshare and differing requirements led France to pursue its own development programme. Dassault built a technology demonstrator that first flew in July 1986 as part of an eight-year flight-test programme, paving the way for approval of the project.

The Rafale is distinct from other European fighters of its era in that it is almost entirely built by one country, involving most of France's major defence contractors, such as Dassault, Thales and Safran. Many of the aircraft's avionics and features, such as direct voice input, the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the optronique secteur frontal infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, were domestically developed and produced for the Rafale programme. Originally scheduled to enter service in 1996, the Rafale suffered significant delays due to post-Cold War budget cuts and changes in priorities. There are three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version.

Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy.[1] It has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Egyptian Air Force, the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy, the Qatar Air Force, the Hellenic Air Force, the Croatian Air Force, the Indonesian Air Force and the United Arab Emirates Air Force. The Rafale is considered one of the most advanced and capable warplanes in the world,[5] and among the most successful internationally.[6] It has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria.


General characteristics

Crew: 1 or 2
Length: 15.27 m (50 ft 1 in)
Wingspan: 10.90 m (35 ft 9 in)
Height: 5.34 m (17 ft 6 in)
Wing area: 45.7 m2 (492 sq ft)
Empty weight: 10,300 kg (22,708 lb) (B)[81][388]
9,850 kg (21,720 lb) (C)[81][388]
10,600 kg (23,400 lb) (M)[81][388]
Gross weight: 15,000 kg (33,069 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 24,500 kg (54,013 lb)
Fuel capacity: 4,700 kg (10,362 lb) internal for single-seater (C); 4,400 kg (9,700 lb) for two-seater (B)
Maximum fuel: (C): 16,550 L (4,370 US gal; 3,640 imp gal) (5,750 L (1,520 US gal; 1,260 imp gal) internal + 2,300 L (610 US gal; 510 imp gal) in 2x conformal tanks + 8,500 L (2,200 US gal; 1,900 imp gal) in 5 drop tanks)[citation needed]
Powerplant: 2 × Snecma M88-4e turbofans, 50.04 kN (11,250 lbf) thrust each [393] dry, 75 kN (17,000 lbf) with afterburner

Maximum speed: 1,912 km/h (1,188 mph, 1,032 kn) [394] / Mach 1.8[394] at high altitude
1,390 km/h; 860 mph; 750 kn / Mach 1.1 at low altitude
Supercruise: on 4 missiles and a 1250-liter belly droptank[395]
Mach 1.4 supercruise on Rafale M (navy) version with 6 MICA air-to-air missiles[396]
Combat range: 1,850 km (1,150 mi, 1,000 nmi) on penetration mission with three tanks (5,700 L combined), two SCALP-EG and two MICA AAMs.[citation needed]
Ferry range: 3,700 km (2,300 mi, 2,000 nmi) with 3 drop tanks
Service ceiling: 15,835 m (51,952 ft)
g limits: +9 −3.6 (+11 in emergencies)[69][397][398] "RELEASE STICK" warning appears at 9g[citation needed]
Rate of climb: 304.8 m/s (60,000 ft/min)
Wing loading: 328 kg/m2 (67 lb/sq ft)
Thrust/weight: 0.988 (100% fuel, 2 EM A2A missile, 2 IR A2A missile) version B
Guns: 1× 30 mm (1.2 in) GIAT 30/M791 autocannon with 125 rounds
Hardpoints: 14 External hardpoints for Air and Space Force versions (Rafale B/C), 13 for Navy version (Rafale M) with a capacity of 9,500 kg (20,900 lb) external fuel and ordnance, with provisions to carry combinations of:
MBDA MICA EM and IR (most widely used air-to-air missiles on Rafale; MICA-EM and MICA-IR both used for short-range and also for medium-range BVR combat)
MBDA Meteor
Magic II
MBDA Apache
MBDA Storm Shadow/SCALP-EG
AASM-Hammer (SBU-38/54/64)
GBU-12 Paveway II, GBU-16 Paveway II, GBU-22 Paveway III, GBU-24 Paveway III, GBU-49 Enhanced Paveway II
Mark 82[399]
MBDA AM 39-Exocet air-launched anti-ship missile (one AM 39-Exocet at the central under-fuselage hardpoint)[400][401]
Nuclear Deterrence:
ASMP-A nuclear missile
Thales Damocles targeting pod
Thales AREOS (Airborne Recce Observation System) reconnaissance pod[402]
Thales TALIOS multi-function targeting pod[403]
Up to 5 drop tanks
Buddy–buddy refueling pod

The Rafale is distinct from other European fighters of its era in that it is almost entirely built by one country


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