Rafale naval version taking off from an aircraft carrier


Instead of proceeding with the Eurofighter project, France decided to develop its own advanced next-generation fighter, the ACX, later to become the Rafale.

Rafale is a twin-jet combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and high-accuracy strike or nuclear strike deterrence.

The design incorporates canards and a fly-by-wire control system for exceptional manoeuvrability as well as radar-absorbent paint and more rounded surfaces to improve stealth.


The Rafale C is a single seat attack fighter for the Air Force while the Rafale M is a navalised version designed to operate from French aircraft carriers. Current plans call for 94 one-seat and 140 two-seat aircraft to be built for the Air Force and 86 for the Navy. The Rafale is intended to replace the Air Force's Mirage III, Mirage 5, Mirage F.1, Jaguar, and Mirage IVP as well as the Navy's F-8 Crusader and Super Etendard.

The cockpit has hands-on throttle and stick control (HOTAS). The cockpit is equipped with a head-up, wide-angle holographic display from Thales Avionique, which provides aircraft control data, mission data and firing cues.

The Rafale can carry payloads of over 9t on 14 hardpoints for the air force version, and 13 for the naval version. The range of weapons includes: Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles; and Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

The Rafale's electronic warfare system is the Spectra from Thales. Spectra incorporates solid state transmitter technology, radar warner, DAL laser warning receiver, missile warning, detection systems and jammers.

The Rafale is powered by two M88-2 engines from SNECMA, each providing a thrust of 75kN. The aircraft is equipped for buddy-buddy refuelling with a flight refuelling hose reel and drogue pack.

RAFALE Specifications
Type Multi-role combat aircraft
Manufacturer Dassault Aviation
Accommodation C/M One seat, B two seat
Armament one 30mm GIAT 30/719B cannon with 125 rounds, 14 hard points on C/B version and 13 on Naval M carrying a mix of Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles; and Exocet/AM39, Penguin 3 and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, ASMP standoff nuclear missile or MBDA Storm Shadow / Scalp EG stand-off cruise missile
Performance Max speed Mach 1.8+ (2,130km/h, 1,320mph)
Wing Span 35.4ft (10.8m)
Length 50ft (15.2m)
Height 17.4ft (5.3m)
Weight 19,975lb (9,060kg) empty, Max take off weight 54,000lb (24,500kg)
Powerplant two SNECMA M88-2 engines providing 16550 lb (75 kN) thrust each
Variants Rafale C single seat air variant, Rafale B two seat air variant, Rafale M single seat naval variant