The French Air Force (Armée de l'Air: AdlA) has declared initial operating capability (IOC) for the F3R-standard Dassault Rafale combat aircraft, the service announced on 9 December.
As noted by the AdlA, the declaration, which was made on 6 December, follows several months of training crews and technical staff of the Air Force Command and the Strategic Air Force Command since the F3R standard was officially accepted in July.
IOC enables the service to use the F3R standard for its national air defence, overseas air defence and strike, and nuclear deterrence missions, the air force said. Operational units are continuing to ramp-up on the Rafale F3R ahead of the integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and the Thales TALIOS long-range airborne targeting pod in the first half of 2020.
The new F3R standard for the Rafale has been developed by Dassault Aviation, Thales, MBDA, and Safran under a contract signed in January 2014. As previously reported by Jane's , the F3R standard comprises major software and hardware upgrades that include the integration of the Meteor BVRAAM and the latest laser-guided version of the Sagem Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) modular air-to-ground precision weapon, the Thales RBE2 active electronic scanned array (AESA) radar, the Thales TALIOS pod, an automatic ground collision avoidance system (Auto-GCAS), an improved buddy-buddy refuelling pod, and the Spectra electronic warfare system.
While the standard has now been declared operational with the AdlA, the French Navy (Marine Nationale: MN) is expected to do the same shortly following delivery of its first F3R aircraft to 10 Squadron of the Naval Aviation Experimental and Evaluation Centre, located at Hyères near Marseilles, in January.
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