The French Navy received its first Rafale jet fighter upgraded to the F3-R carrier version standard, according to defenseworld.net.
The aircraft will be part of Flotilla 11F, the first unit to be armed by this aircraft standard, the French Navy said in a statement.
The F3-R standard is an evolution of the Rafale F3 standard, with the exceptional versatility being further reinforced. It is part of the ongoing process to continuously improve the aircraft in line with the operational requirements and the feedback from experience of the pilots. It enables the Air Force and Navy Rafale aircraft to carry the following equipment and weapons:
- The European Meteor long-range air-to-air missile produced by MBDA. This high-performance missile achieves maximum effectiveness thanks to the “active array” radar which equips all production Rafale aircraft delivered since mid-2013.
- The Thales Talios new-generation laser designator pod. Primarily used for air-to-ground strikes, in daylight or darkness, this pod further enhances the high degree of precision that the Rafale has shown since its first engagements (in 2007 in the Afghan theatre).
- The laser homing version of the Safran AASM Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon. This family of weapons, with GPS primary guidance and an additional booster, is unmatched. It enables the Rafale to destroy targets at ranges of several tens of kilometers with metric precision. The laser homing version is particularly adapted to moving targets.
F3 R also includes upgrades to the Rafale sensors and to systems ensuring total interoperability.
The Rafale continuous improvement approach is now looking to the F4 standard, development of which should begin soon, after completion of the ongoing feasibility studies. This future standard will notably improve the connectivity of the Rafale and its ability to operate as part of a network.
The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006, gradually replacing the seven types of previous-generation combat aircraft.
The Rafale has proven itself in external operations in various theatres: Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Of the 180 aircraft ordered by France to date, 151 have been delivered.
The Rafale fleet currently totals almost 260,000 flight hours, including 40,000 in operations.