Entering service at the beginning of the 2000s, first in the French Navy then in the Air Force, the Rafale is today the spearhead of the French air forces, and it will remain so for several decades. several dozen devices remaining to be delivered , not even to mention the additional orders to come. Rafale this longevity on the one hand to the end of the Cold War, which stopped the usual pace of renewal of combat aircraft, but also and above all to its very design, which allows it to be updated. regularly, incrementally, without major structural modification.
For a year, the Air Force and the Navy have started to update their Rafale to the F3R standard, which includes a new active radar antenna (RBE2 AESA) from Thales, the very long-range METEOR aerial missile or the new generation TALIOS laser designation pod, which finally corrects the major flaws of the Damocles pod for short-range shots. In January 2019, however, even as the first Rafale F3Rs were delivered, the Minister of the Armed Forces officially launched the development of a major new Rafale , the F4.
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