Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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

If the Rafale F5 will be able to rely on new capabilities and performances specific to the device, it will also benefit from a renewed operational, industrial and commercial environment, to potentially give it the upper hand over competing offers, and in particular the Lockheed -Martin F-35 Lightning II, from 2030.

For almost two decades now, international competitions between the Rafale from the French Dassault Aviation, and the F-35 from the American Lockheed-Martin , have systematically turned in favor of the latter, to the point that the American aircraft has become today a real standard for European air forces, to the great chagrin of the aircraft manufacturers of the old continent.

But the new version of the Rafale , designated F5, which is due to enter service from 2030, could profoundly change the operational and commercial balance of power between these two aircraft for the years and decades to come.

In the first part of this article , we studied two criteria of this evolution, the transformation of the Rafale into an air combat system with the F5 version on the one hand, and the arrival of the Neuron and Remote Carrier combat drones from the another, erasing the strengths of the F-35A while exacerbating those of the French fighter.

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In this second part, we will address 3 other major areas that will influence this balance of power: the new capabilities and new munitions of the Rafale F5; the appearance of the Rafale Club and the emergence of a new French commercial and industrial strategy, and finally the influence of the increase in the cost of ownership of the F-35 on future competitions.

3- The new capabilities and new ammunition of the Rafale F5

In addition to the drones themselves, the Rafale F5 will be equipped with new munitions and new capabilities, which will allow it to overcome certain relative weaknesses compared to the F-35. This is particularly the case in the field of the suppression of opposing anti-aircraft defenses , to which it is common to refer by the acronym SEAD which, as we have echoed several times since 2018, represented a significant lack in the operational range of the Rafale so far.

If the composition of this capacity which the Rafale F5 will be equipped with has not yet been officially presented, we can assume that it will be based on the joint use of radar jammers in addition to the aircraft's self-defense systems, to give it the possibility of encompassing other devices in its protective bubble, as well as one or more anti-radiation munitions, designed to raise the adversary's radar beam to destroy it.

The Rafale F5 will have new ammunition
The FMC must replace the SCALP cruise missile which equips the Rafale of the Air and Space Force and the Naval Aeronautics today

The Rafale F5 will also be designed to implement the new Franco-British FMC (Future Cruise Missile) and FMAN (Future Anti-Ship Missile) missiles which will respectively replace the SCALP/Storm Shadow cruise missiles on the one hand, and AM39 Exocet on the other.

These two long-range precision munitions, currently being designed, will have advanced characteristics, such as stealth or hypersonic speed, to challenge modern anti-aircraft defense systems such as jamming and decoy systems, and will provide the device of highly advanced long-range strike capabilities in the decades to come.

The aircraft will also be equipped with a pod merging the capabilities of the Talios target designation pods and the RECO NG reconnaissance pod into a single piece of equipment, giving the fighter an air-to-ground, air-to-surface and even air tactical vision. -air of great precision, and thus multiple operational options while remaining in non-emitting mode.

Finally, the Rafale F5 will be designed to implement the new ASN4G hypersonic cruise missile with a nuclear charge, which must replace the ASMPA within the two squadrons of the Air and Space Force and the flotillas of the French Navy forming the air component of French deterrence. However, this capability, although critical for French defense, will probably have very little influence on the international market.

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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