The Dassault Rafale will form the cornerstone of French air power until well into the 21st century. The programme began with the Rafale A technology demonstrator that was first flown on 4 July 1986. This established the basic aerodynamic design and evaluated the delta canard configuration, performance, FBW control system and composite-based structure. The generic Rafale D (Discret, or stealthy) – prototype for the Armee de l’Air versions – is slightly smaller and lighter.
The Rafale has been exported to Egypt and Qatar. Deliveries to India were planned to begin in 2020.