WHAT SHALL F4 STANDARD HAVE?
Dassault Aviation announced on 22 March last year that French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has authorized development of the new RAFALE F4 standard.
The underlying philosophy of the RAFALE programme is continuous development through a succession of standards to adapt the aircraft to changing operational and technical needs. A first version of the new F4 standard could be in evidence as early as 2023, the company stated, following the F3-R standard, currently scheduled for qualification in 2018 and that India will be getting.
INDIA’s CASE of F4 RAFALES:
India is not going to place an order for next set of 110 jets before the end of 2020, if the recent Boeing statement that India will take two years to complete the trials of various aircraft and vetting of the offers, is to be taken at face value. The current order of 36 aircraft will be completed by the middle of 2022. And from next year i.e. 2023 India can have delivery of Rafale F4 standard. Possible France has begun to work eagerly on F4 standard with Indian order in sight. Any future enhancements can be taken as part of the offer. By 2025 Rafale 5th tranche will be fully ready. If the current order and delivery schedule is to go by, even that fits the bill perfectly.
“I am delighted by the Minister for Defence’s decision. The F4 standard will incorporate operational experience feedback and enable continuous improvement of the RAFALE to be maintained. It will reinforce the (FRANCE) national skills and technological capabilities essential for preparing the development of the next generation of combat aircraft,” stated Eric Trappier, Chairman, and CEO of Dassault Aviation. “I am also delighted that the Defence Ministry (of FRANCE) underlines the need to continue with the acquisition of the RAFALE, beyond the 4th tranche currently in production. Finally, this robust national foundation will constitute a launch pad for our aircraft in future export markets.”
RAFALE is currently on order for the air forces of Egypt, India and Qatar as well as the French Armed Forces.
What F4 standard will have :
Although light on specifics, the defence ministry of France says the F4 upgrade will be driven by operational feedback and will include improvements to the Rafale’s networking capabilities and sensors.
So that includes Conformal array radars. In layman’s language Sensors of current RBE2 will be installed all over the body including wings for 360-degree coverage. Spectra suite will be further given teeth, borne off flying Rafales in Syria.
In addition, it will take into account the “expected evolution” of missiles and engines, as well as the likely integration of new capabilities.
It means Range of Meteors will go beyond 200 km and approach 250 km. MICAs will also be enhanced. The range of Storm shadow will be further enhanced. After all current AGM-158, JASSM-ER aboard Super Hornet can be fired from 950km stand-off range. As compared to that STORM SHADOW has a range of 500 km. So France would be working on that.
Also, it would surely involve an integration of anti-armour Brimstone 2 missile with a range of more than 60 km. Possibly Brimstone III or Spear III is in the plans which have a range of 120 km and will be around by then.
More powerful engines will be installed from current Snecma M-88 that produce 75kN of thrust each. Likely new capabilities would mean Rafale will be further made stealthier.