The programme Rafale is it heading towards divergence from F4?

At the launch of the development of the F4 standard of the program Rafale, this had to be divided into two different standards. The F4.1 was to concern only aircraft already built, and was to involve an increase in the operational capabilities of the fighter with, among other improvements, the arrival of the MICA NG air-to-air missile, the Hammer 1000 heavy glide guided bomb. kg, or the evolution of the SPECTRA self-defense system.

The F4.2 standard should only concern new devices. If, in terms of operational capabilities, it was almost identical to the F4.1, it was, on the other hand, to pave the way for the future F5 standard, which was not yet defined, and which was mainly to focus on the evolution of capabilities. nuclear deterrent of the French air forces.

Things have evolved since this nomenclature dating from 2020. On the one hand, the F4.1 standard seems to have only been provided with part of the planned developments, and it could be, according to certain reports, that the device will reach actually its full standard only after one or two other minor developments, designated F4.2 and, perhaps therefore, F4.3.

As for the evolution towards the F5 standard, it seems that it is native for all devices which will be built to the F4.x standard. Above all, the F4 generation appears more and more as a generation of transition, marking a divergence in the program Rafale, between the native and later F4 devices, which will evolve towards the F5 then F6 standard, and the earlier devices, which will follow a different modernization trajectory.

42 new Rafale F4 for the Air and Space Force

A few days ago, the Ministry of the Armed Forces announced that it had notified Dassault Aviation of the order of 42 new Rafale, i.e. the 30 aircraft planned by the planning, as well as the replacement of the 12 aircraft taken from the inventory of the Air and Space Force, destined for Croatia.

Rafale B Croatian
Of the 42 aircraft ordered by France, 12 are intended to replace the aircraft sold second-hand to Croatia

As such, it is important to remember that the 12 Rafale used, sold to Greece in 2020, had already been the subject of a special order in January 2021. They will be delivered, like the last devices of tranche 4, by 2026, to the F3R standard.

The hunters ordered as part of the LPM 2024-2030, will be delivered from 2027, directly to the F4 standard. The Ministry of the Armed Forces insisted on this point in its press release, as well as on the fact that they will be able to evolve towards the F5 standard. They will be intended exclusively for the Air and Space Force, to replace the Mirage 2000-5 which will leave service at the same time.

This order will allow the Air and Space Force to bring its fleet Rafale to 137 aircraft, and that of the French Navy to 41 fighters. A final order of 48 Rafale must be passed in 2030, to replace the modernized Mirage 2000-D, and reach the format of 185 fighters for the Air Force and 41 for the Navy. The French air forces will then have completed their transition Rafale.

The Rafale Native F4 will be able to evolve towards the F5 standard

The insistence of the Ministry of the Armed Forces on the F4 format, and on its future evolution towards the F5 standard, is not purely formal. Indeed, everything now indicates that only Rafale F4 natives, will actually be able to evolve towards this new standard, which will in particular allow the fighter to operate in concert with the future combat drone which must be developed for 2030, concomitantly with this standard.

Program Rafale
The programme Rafale is it heading towards divergence from F4? 4

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