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France Bets Big on “Super Rafale” to US 5th Gen F-35’s International Dominance

Named the Rafale F5 or “Super Rafale,” France hopes this latest variant of its flagship fighter jet will reclaim export markets where it has often been outperformed, especially by the F-35 developed by Lockheed Martin.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — Beginning this year and continuing through 2030, France will embark on the development of a more advanced variant of the Rafale fighter jet.

 Together with its manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, France aims to outperform the American-made F-35 fighter jet in global sales.

Named the Rafale F5 or “Super Rafale,” France hopes this latest variant of its flagship fighter jet will reclaim export markets where it has often been outperformed, especially by the F-35 developed by Lockheed Martin.

Dassault Aviation has been taken aback by several defeats to the F-35 in competitions to supply fighter jets to various European countries, including its neighbors, despite achieving victories in the Middle East and Asia, such as in Indonesia.

 The setbacks in Europe have spurred the French company to develop the “Super Rafale” variant to challenge the F-35.

Rafale
Qatar’s Rafale

The “Super Rafale” variant will be designed to operate in conjunction with several loyal wingman drones called “nEUROn,” which will be autonomously controlled by the pilots of the latest fighter variant.

Although controlled by “Super Rafale” pilots, the “nEUROn” will retain its own autonomy.

This aircraft will also be equipped with radar jamming and self-defense systems to create a “self-defense bubble” for itself and other systems involved in its operations.

The jamming radars equipped on the “Super Rafale” will address current Rafale aircraft issues, particularly its shortcomings in SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) operations.

Furthermore, the “Super Rafale” is being designed to carry new guided missiles resulting from a French-British collaboration, known as the Future Cruise Missile (FCM) and the Future Anti-Ship Missile (FASM), moving away from using SCALP/Storm Shadow cruise missiles and AM39 Exocet.

 The latest Rafale fighter variant will also feature a targeting pod that combines capabilities from “Talios” and “Reco NG.”

Damocles
Fully-loaded Rafale

 

 The “Talios” targeting pod has been used by the Rafale F3R and Rafale F4 variants, while the Reco NG targeting pod is utilized by the Mirage aircraft.

Additionally, the “Super Rafale” will be designed to carry hypersonic nuclear missiles, “ASN4G,” replacing the nuclear “air-sol moyenne portée” (ASMPA) missiles as France’s deterrence power.

According to French defense analysts, the “Super Rafale” being developed by Dassault Aviation, along with other assets, will serve its mission as an integrated entity known as the “Club Rafale.”

As reported by the French defense website “Meta Defense,” the Super Rafale or Rafale F5 will be developed to a high degree. It is envisioned as an Air Combat System based on a system within a system, rather than merely a fighter jet, as is the case with the current Rafale F4 variant.

F-35B
F-35B (VSTOL)

 

The French Air Force currently operates the Rafale F3R variant and is transitioning to the Rafale F4 variant in the near future.

The French Military Planning Program targets the development of the “Super Rafale” or Rafale F5 variant from next year through 2030. — DSA

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