The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French procurement agency, on 9 November announced that it had qualified the new-generation F3R standard for the Rafale combat aircraft on 31 October, in line with the January 2014 contract awarded to Dassault Aviation, Thales, MBDA, and Safran.
Earlier in October, the DGA launched the F3R upgrade for all 144 Rafales in service. The first 10 Rafale F3Rs, four of which will be delivered by the end of 2018, will be used by the French Air Force and French Navy to fine-tune the upgrade, as already begun by DGA testing teams.
Like previous versions, the F3R involves major software and hardware upgrades, according to the DGA. The agency said two new capabilities would “change the game” in combat aviation: the use of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile together with the Thales RBE2 electronic scanned array (AESA) radar, and the Thales TALIOS long-range airborne targeting pod improves target detection, reconnaissance, and identification, day and night, for high-precision air-to-ground strikes.
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