The prospect of exporting the Rafale fighter jet was initially difficult. However, over time, exports of Rafale jets are starting to sell. This can be seen from the interest of Qatar, India, and Greece who owns the Rafale.
It’s also worth noting that the Rafale is one of the most expensive fighter jets in the world at a cost of around €100 million, according to a 2011 study by the University of Toulon. Unlike its competitors, which have relatively cheap prices, such as American jets, Swedish Gripens, and Eurofighters. This is what makes the Rafale somewhat less desirable to buy.
However, Dassault Aviation stunned the global market in 2021 after the United Arab Emirates placed a landmark order for 80 aircraft. The company says that in April 2022, it received the first down payment for Rafale fighters for the UAE. Greece also purchased six brand-new Rafales at the beginning of the year.
Pierre-Henri “Até” CHUET, a former French Rafale navy pilot-turned keynote speaker, stated in an interview with the EurAsian Times that “the aircraft wasn’t ready to be sold, it wasn’t fully finished.
The Rafale has been, from the beginning, marketed as a multirole, multi-mission platform. Yet, initially, all the computer systems, all the data, and all the weapons systems weren’t ready and weren’t operational.”
The Rafale was also required to guide and lay the bomb but was initially unable to do so, he added. However, the jet eventually evolved, reaching new capabilities between 2013 and 2015, when Pierre-Henri “Até” CHUET switched to Rafale from Super Etendard in 2014.
Até has a distinguished background in flying combat missions in Iraq and served as lead pilot for the 2017 Navy Rafale display at the 2017 Yeovilton Air Show.
“The plane was very different from the beginning. So at first, when the plane was not finished, to be honest, it didn’t sell much. Once it becomes what is marketed, it starts to be sold,” he added.
Até says, “ France is trying to maintain sovereignty around its industry and that takes time. You have to have a long program to keep your defense industry at a higher level.”
In addition, Até also explained that all sensors and systems integrated into the main screen distinguish the Rafale from other aircraft of the same generation.
The former Rafale pilot said, “Just using this center screen, you will be able to have a moving map, you will be able to see through 2D and 3D radar, You will be able to see DataLink transfer data from other aircraft links16, electronic countermeasures (ECM), and your electronic information.
You can have everything on one screen, so it’s very easy for the pilot to decide and get good situational awareness.” He believed that the Rafale plane was designed to provide convenience to pilots. The pilot can change screens, clear maps, and move everything around as he pleases.
The Rafale is outfitted with a SPECTRA system for electronic warfare and self-defense, which is used to safeguard the aircraft from airborne and ground threats and gather electronic intelligence.For precise strikes and imagery intelligence (IMINT) missions, the Rafale employs Reco NG aerial reconnaissance (AEROS) and Damocles targeting pods, respectively.
Even so, the Rafale fighter jet engine is not the best in the world. Although the Rafale’s engine is great, Typhoon’s fighter jet engine is superior.
“The Rafale fighter is a very good aircraft and if you understand it perfectly and if you understand your opponent as well, You will know exactly how you want to fight the enemy and you will succeed.
So overall situational awareness is a major factor and that will offset the fact that the engine isn’t as powerful as the Typhoon.”
Quoting from dassault-aviation.com, with an empty weight of 10 tons, the Rafale is equipped with 14 hard points (13 in the Rafale M).
Five of them are capable of drop tanks and heavy weaponry. Meanwhile, the total external load capacity is over nine tons (20,000 lbs). Therefore, the Rafale can lift a payload equivalent to its own empty weight. Mid Air refueling missions can also be carried out in parts of the airspace beyond the reach of special and vulnerable tanker aircraft.
With its exceptional payload capability and state-of-the-art mission system, the Rafale can carry out air-to-ground attacks as well as air-to-air strikes and interception during the same sortie.