Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Why will the Rafale F5 be more attractive than the F-35 in 2030 and beyond? Part 1/2

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The arrival of the Rafale F5 standard for 2030, as announced by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Sébastien Lecornu, as part of the LPM 2024-2030, will not only provide the Dassault Aviation fighter with new capabilities, it could also profoundly transform the combat aircraft market, including in the face of a Lockheed-Martin F-35 which seems untouchable today.

After almost a decade of lean times and doubts, between 2005 and 2015, the Rafale established itself as one of the most important successes of the French defense industry in terms of exports, while the new standard Rafale F5 will arrive in 2030.

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Indeed, since the first order of 24 Rafale F3s by Egypt in February 2015, the French fighter has achieved success, initially in Qatar and India, then in Greece, Croatia, Indonesia and of course the Emirates. United Arabs, the 80 Rafale F4s ordered by Abu Dhabi for €14 billion being the largest export contract ever signed by the French BITD.

In fact, with 284 delivered, ordered or under commitment for export on the one hand, and 225 fighters to ultimately arm the French air forces of the Air and Space Army and Naval Aeronautics , the Rafale is today a colossal success for Dassault Aviation and the entire Rafale team, especially as other export contracts are expected in the months to come, perhaps with announcements during of the next Paris Air Show.

It must be said that the Rafale has no shortage of arguments to put forward. Very balanced, offering rare versatility, and appreciated aeronautical performances, the aircraft also has modern and efficient on-board electronics, and a set of ammunition and other on-board systems making it one of the best fighters of the moment, and this in all areas.

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The Rafale F5 could undermine the hegemonic position of the F-35
The F-35 has established itself as the de facto NATO standard, both within the American and European air forces.

Despite these indisputable advantages, the Rafale has never managed to win against the F-35A from the American Lockheed-Martin, whether in European competitions (Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Belgium, etc.) or Asian (South Korea, Singapore).

It must be said that the Lightning II has numerous arguments to put forward beyond the sole support of the Pentagon and the American State Department, arguments sufficiently differentiated to justify, at least from the point of view of discourse, a generation of gap with its main European competitors such as the Swedish Gripen E/F, the Typhoon and the French Rafale .

And in fact, the F-35A (and sometimes B) has systematically imposed itself wherever the aircraft was offered, and is even at the heart of a certain breaking of the ban on the part of allies of the United States. being seen refusing the device, like Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

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But things could well change in the years, or even months, to come. Indeed, during the parliamentary debates around the 2024-2030 Military Programming Law, the Ministry of the Armed Forces mapped out a very ambitious trajectory for the French aircraft, sometimes even revolutionary in relation to the French in recent years. years, and likely to profoundly change the relative positioning of the Rafale on the international scene, in particular compared to the American F-35.

National assembly lpm Fighter aviation | Defense Analysis | Military aircraft construction
The Military Programming Law was passed by the National Assembly by 408 votes to 87

In fact, from here, the Rafale F5, supported by Neuron drones and evolving in an international techno-system articulated around the “Club Rafale ”, will have 5 assets to put forward to win against the Lockheed fighter, studied in this article in two parts .

1- Will the Rafale F5 be the first operational Air Combat System on the international market?

Until the arrival of electric flight controls, the pilot's main mission was to pilot the aircraft, that is to say, to keep it within its flight envelope, while carrying out the tasks and fulfilling the requirements as best as possible. missions entrusted. With the arrival of electric flight controls, with the F-16 or the Mirage 2000, piloting was entrusted to the aircraft itself, the pilot (or crew) then being in charge of the trajectory, of the combat and mission management in the broader sense.

With the modernization of onboard systems, more and more tasks have been assigned to the aircraft itself. In fact, on board a Rafale F3R, piloting and controlling the flight path represent only a tiny part of the workload in the cockpit.

panoramic cockpit May 13, 2022.627d51d4cead7.png Fighter aviation | Defense Analysis | Military aircraft construction
The full glass cockpit of the F-35 helps give the aircraft a futuristic stature that is very attractive to Western decision-makers.

LOGO meta defense 70 Fighter aircraft | Defense Analysis | Military aircraft construction

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