France has formally launched the development of the F4-standard for the Dassault Rafale combat aircraft, the manufacturer announced on 14 January.
Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, received the F4-standard development contract for the Rafale during a visit by French defence minister Florence Parly to the company's Mérignac production facility near Bordeaux.
"The F4-standard guarantees that Rafale will remain at world-class level so that our combat air forces can carry out all their missions with optimum efficiency," Trappier said, adding, "This new standard also guarantees that Rafale will remain credible on the export market, [and] confirms the continuous improvement approach and helps develop the manufacturers' skills."
As noted by Dassault, the F4-standard will include enhancements to the Thales RBE2 active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar, the Thales TALIOS long-range airborne targeting pod and the Reco NG reconnaissance pod; upgrades to the aircraft's communications suite; improved pilot helmet-mounted displays; a new engine control unit; and the ability to carry new weaponry such as the Mica Next-Generation (NG) air-to-air missile and 1,000 kg Sagem Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) modular air-to-ground precision weapon.
Further to the software and hardware improvements, the F4 upgrade will include a satellite antenna, as well as a new prognosis and diagnostic aid system designed to introduce predictive maintenance capabilities.
For the naval Rafale M (Marine) variant, a more precise carrier landing system will enable all-weather operations and prepare the navy for the future use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from its ships.
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