When the development of the F4 standard of the Rafale program was launched, it had to be divided into two different standards. The F4.1 was to only concern 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 transition generation, marking a divergence in the Rafale program, between the native and later F4 devices, which will evolve towards the F5 then F6 standard, and the earlier devices, which will follow a trajectory of different modernization.
42 new Rafale F4s 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 for 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, bound for Croatia.
In this respect, it is important to remember that the 12 used Rafale , sold to Greece in 2020, had already been the subject of a special order in January 2021. They will be delivered, like the last aircraft in the tranche 4, by 2026, to the F3R standard.
The fighters ordered under the 2024-2030 LPM will, for their part, 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 Rafale to 137 aircraft, and that of the French Navy to 41 fighters . A final order for 48 Rafale must be placed in 2030, to replace the Mirage 2000-D, and reach the format of 185 fighters for the Air Force and 41 for the Navy. Rafale transition .
Native Rafale F4s 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 the Rafale F4s will actually be capable of evolving 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.
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