The French Navy announced the Initial Operational Capability of the Rafale Marine F3-R standard. This decision follows several months of training for crews and technical personnel from the 11F Flotilla, the first of three fighter squadrons to adopt this new standard. The F3-R standard thus allows the French Navy to upgrade the Rafale Marine and acquire more modern capabilities leading up to the integration of the Meteor long-range missile and the TALIOS laser designation nacelle. This is a major milestone towards the operational entry into service of the Rafale F3-R.
The Rafale’s new F3-R standard brings new capabilities in the fields of intelligence, communication, engagement and command. While the integration of the Meteor long-range missile and the new generation Talios laser designation pod are the major innovations, other developments (mainly software) in on-board systems allow the aircraft to evolve. The F3-R standard also includes an AGCAS (Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System) and various improvements relating to the RBE2 radar, the Spectra electronic warfare system, the Reco NG pod and the inertial navigation system. With the F3-R standard, the Rafale Marine will also be equipped with a new generation in-flight refueling nacelle, making the aircraft capable of using the laser terminally-guided version of AASM (modular air-ground weapon).
Rafale M F3-R is same as Rafale C F3-R but Carrier-borne version for the French Naval Aviation, which entered service in 2001. For carrier operations, the M model has a strengthened airframe, longer nose gear leg to provide a more nose-up attitude, larger tailhook between the engines, and a built-in boarding ladder. Consequently, the Rafale M weighs about 500 kg (1,100 lb) more than the Rafale C. It is the only non-US fighter type cleared to operate from the decks of US carriers, using catapults and their arresting gear, as demonstrated in 2008 when six Rafales from Flottille 12F integrated into the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Air Wing interoperability exercise.