France makes progress on Rafale upgrades
By Tom Withington
France is making progress on upgrading its Rafale multirole aircraft to a new standard, according to a Paris-based source close to the Rafale programme. It will be known as the Rafale F3R, and largely constitute a major software upgrade for the aircraft.
The upgrade is necessary to enhance the Thales RBE2 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, and to allow the aircraft to deploy the MBDA Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), along with affording improvements to the aircraft's Thales SPECTRA self-defence system and Mode-5/Mode-S-compatible Identification Friend or Foe interrogator/transponder.
The French defence procurement agency (DGA) has revealed it awarded a contract to Dassault in December 2012 to complete a risk reduction study for an upgrade of the Rafale combat. The news was announced by the DGA's director Laurent Collet-Billon during the agency's press conference in Paris on 13 February.
The first production Rafale, equipped with the RBE2 radar, was handed over to the DGA in October and is currently undergoing flight testing. Meanwhile, weapons separation tests of the Meteor missile were completed with the Rafale during the same month.182 of 568 words
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