The French Navy has received its first R Dassault Rafale F3-R Carrier-borne version fighter jet. The commander of the Landivisiau Naval Air Base has formally taken delivery of the French Navy’s first Rafale to the new standard F3-R. The upgraded aircraft made its first flight from Landivisiau air base on Dec 17, 2018, at 16:15 hours. It will initially be operated by CEPA / 10S squadron, which will carry out a number of trials which, if successful, will then allow the Naval Aviation command to declare the operational commissioning of the Rafale F3-R standard, which will initially be operated by Flotille 11F (11th Naval Air Squadron), the first unit to operate this aircraft standard.
On 31 October 2018, the F3-R standard of the Rafale was qualified by the French defense procurement agency (DGA). The development of this new standard, launched at the end of 2013, was successfully completed by Dassault Aviation and its partners in full compliance with contractual performance, schedule and budget. The F3-R standard is an evolution of the Rafale F3 standard, with the exceptional versatility being further reinforced. It is part of the ongoing process to continuously improve the aircraft in line with the operational requirements and the feedback from experience of the pilotes.
The Dassault Rafale F3-R enables the Air Force and Navy Rafale aircraft to carry the following equipment and weapons:
- The European Meteor long-range air-to-air missile produced by MBDA. This high-performance missile achieves maximum effectiveness thanks to the “active array” radar which equips all production Rafale aircraft delivered since mid-2013.
- The Thales Talios new-generation laser designator pod. Primarily used for air-to-ground strikes, in daylight or darkness, this pod further enhances the high degree of precision that the Rafale has shown since its first engagements (in 2007 in the Afghan theatre).
- The laser homing version of the Safran AASM Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon. This family of weapons, with GPS primary guidance and an additional booster, is unmatched. It enables the Rafale to destroy targets at ranges of several tens of kilometers with metric precision. The laser homing version is particularly adapted to moving targets.
- F3 R also includes upgrades to the Rafale sensors and to systems ensuring total interoperability.
The Rafale continuous improvement approach is now looking to the F4 standard, development of which should begin soon, after completion of the ongoing feasibility studies. This future standard will notably improve the connectivity of the Rafale and its ability to operate as part of a network.Dassault Aviation and its partners associated with the Rafale program thank the Ministry of Defense, the DGA, the French Air Force and the French Navy for their confidence. The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006, it is the only non-US fighter type cleared to operate from the decks of US carriers, using catapults and their arresting gear.