France is willing to sell Rafale fighters to interested countries, and rarely has any political conditions attached to it.

The fact that the opponents turned to the French Rafale fighter posed many challenges for Russia. The French Rafale fighters can completely threaten the export position of Russia’s Su-35 fighters. Many countries have turned to the Rafale multi-role fighter as an alternative after the US refused to sell the F-35.

The Rafale fighter is likely to be the strongest opponent of the Su-35 in the sky, because France and a number of potential rival countries of Russia have and will own this fighter line.


To be fair, the Rafale is one of the most powerful 4++ fighters in the West. The combat capacity of the Rafale is considered to be equivalent, even better than the Su-35 in some parameters such as weapon payload and electronic equipment.

Considered the elite of the French, the Dassault Rafale is a highly versatile and efficient multi-role fighter. The Rafale is equipped with an advanced avionics system. Modern glass cockpit with large LCD displays providing detailed information about the aircraft’s weapon, fuel, and surroundings.

One of the unique things that makes the Rafale so powerful is the integrated defensive-aids system named SPECTRA, which protects the aircraft against airborne and ground threats, developed as a joint venture between Thales and MBDA. This system helps increase situational awareness, and provide the most suitable countermeasures, helping to increase the survivability of the aircraft in combat.

The Rafale is powered by two Snecma M88-4e turbofan engines, producing 50 kN of dry thrust each, and 70 kN with afterburner. The engines use a digital fuel control system that increases thrust, saves fuel and reduces the infrared signature. Analysts say that the life of the Rafale’s airframe and engines is significantly higher than that of the Su-30/35.


  1. Considering the disgrace of the F-35 which was long predicted by many, including myself, since it was obvious that, with the many flaws and the tremendous costs of the program, Lockheed-Martin and the JPO (Joint Program Office) wouldn’t be able to hide the F-35 fiasco forever. Now even generals or pilots dare to speak about how F-35 is a bad aircraft, so Rafale may not only be an alternative to F-35 for nations that were refused this swindle: it may allow those who had the stupid idea to order F-35 to NOT end with a totally irrelevant air-force : since L-M is unable to deliver what the contract is about since F-35 will NEVER do the job L-M vaunted it as capable of, countries surely can cancel further deliveries and have the money of non delivered aircraft back… For already delivered ones, they can cut the costs of use: the F-35 availability is so disastrous that in case of conflict, a single pilot would be enough for 4 or 6 F-35s. Since the pilot’s training will only require 160 yearly flight hours (at $65,000 per hour, says US GAO comptroller), e.g. Belgium, if they don’t cancel, can keep the 34 F-35s with only 8 pilots and so reduce the use of the fleet to 1280h/year for $83.2 millions : you can’t even hope to fly a F-35 more than 302h/year, and this is if the engine allows to take off (2 thirds of US fleet is grounded due to engine issues)… In case of conflict, a Rafale can fly more than 300h per month (!)

    US Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown Jr. has already called to cut 700+ F-35 orders and considering USAF has less than 200 and how it sucks big league, you can expect that he plans to cut way much more. He also called for the development of an entirely new class of lightweight single engine fighter which would be cheaper and simpler than the F-35 but more modern than the F-16. He referred to this as a “four-and-a-half-gen or fifth-gen-minus” fighter… Well, Rafale’s hourly cost is $10-12k/h… F-16 costs $22,514/h (source : USAF, 2013), Super-Hornet costs $24k/h. F-16 is not “lightweight” at all, it’s medium weight and developing a jet fighter takes 15 years… IMHO, forget about Typhoon : it’s a hangar queen with operating costs said similar to F-15C’s $41,921/h, even owners want to get rid of a part of their fleets while the Tranche-1 is only about 15y old. Gripen-E won’t make it : it’s payload is 1t less than a Mirage-2000, 1.5t less than Mirage-2000-9 and 2.4t less than a F-16…

    It shouldn’t be long until the Navy’s Chief of Staff walks into Charlie Brown’s footsteps…
    Moreover, Rafale-M is ALREADY qualified to operate US-Navy’s aircraft carriers… In fact, as M88 is available up to 115kN, USMC’s LHD/LHAs could even be easily modified for STOBAR use… After the Rockwell XFV-12 fiasco, McDonnell/Douglas license-built the Harrier as there was no other game in town to provide a VSTOL fighter for their amphibious ships.
    The situation is very similar except it extends to the 3 services : there is no replacement for F-16, AV-8B and Super-Hornet, at best, F-35 can be kept for specialty use in much lower numbers than planned, e.g. about 500 for the full DoD, they could even end dumped on DEVGRU/CIA, s, in terms of FMS, well, except maybe Japan, the costs of use will impede any air force’s operations.
    Nevertheless, with simply NOTHING else available from US aircraft manufacturer, and a Rafale which can fulfill the needs of the 3 services and even, once fit with the 115kN engines (F-15C has 105.7kN ones), even fill in the F-15C/F-22 jobs, although the strong US NIH syndrome makes me dubious about such event happening, one thing is clear : Rafale can absolutely fill the USAF, US-Navy and USMC needs…When it comes to 6th gen, I also consider that no matter the country, these will be fielded in relatively small numbers.
    It would even be ironic considering how the Yankees tried so hard to sink Dassault for decades. With active help from NSA global spying, they even managed to torpedo Rafale’s exports for years.

    When France pulled out from the Eurofighter Consortium as a result of BAe shenanigans to impose an air-superiority-only non carrier-capable aircraft, a journo asked the then 91y old Marcel Dassault : “So you make Rafale for France”. M.D answered : “No! I make Rafale for the world!”. Was he prophetic?

    +++ “To be fair, the Rafale is one of the most powerful 4++ fighters in the West.” +++

    >>> Rafale is only called 4++ gen by competitors. Dassault has always told that the generation narrative was nothing else than a Lockheed-Martin advertising bias. Rafale has more advanced stealth features than F-35, not relying only on passive ones. One of the SPECTRA’s features is an ARC (active radar cancellation) : radar waves are electromagnetic waves… Such signals can be suppressed by adding a 180° phasing of themselves, note that such way of doing is used for sound recording since the early 50’s to suppress background noise into mix-desks, mic-cables, etc. Rafale is not the first application of ARC : France already used it on the Lafayette-class of stealth frigates, the 1st class of stealth combat vessels introduced in any navy. Actually, Rafale’s stealth was totally classified until Dec.2015, so many still think it as a 4++ gen aircraft while it has never been so, it just uses “active stealth” instead of the outdated 1st gen “passive” stealth in use by Lockheed-Martin, Chengdu and Shenyang…

    M88-4e provides 75kN afterburner thrust, not 70kN, thus, the M88 engine is already existing in 91kN, 98kN afterburner versions and is available on client’s request up to 115kN. The Rafale-F4 upgrade that will start to be delivered in 2022 will include engine upgrade with additional thrust (it’s not clear if it’ll be the 91kN or the 98kN that will become the standard). Note that more thrust is proposed to clients, it just seem that, for now, these have just considered that having 150kN available was enough… My personal advice would be spending a little more money and get the 115kN ones. Why? At least 2x 73kN dry thrust, maybe 100kN is feasible = Mach 1.75 supercruise, maybe more than Mach2. Then, weapon stations can sustain 12t but you have to take-off with half internal fuel and do the complement from an air-tanker. With 23.47t of thrust instead of 15.31t, you just can consider adding the conformal tanks AND carrying 12 tons under the aircraft : you absolutely can consider to fly in overload, thus allowing even longer range missions or to deliver more “goods”.
    There are also 3000L drop tanks available as well as the central and the two inner wing hardpoints are all rated for up to 4 tons: if there is enough ground clearance, you may consider carrying three 2.5t BrahMos at once, moreover, I advocate creating such kind of pylons :
    but to fit the Meteor LRAAM (or the MICA). This would imply that even if carrying 5 drop-tanks or a serious strike payload, any Rafale will still be able to fly with at least 12 Meteors and 4 MICAs…
    Another point : with 230kN and a 24.5t MTOW, you’re really quiet using Rafale-M from small LHDs if fit with a ski-jump. Even the small one in Thai navy would be OK.Wen it comes to deck-landing, didn’t US-Navy added sponsons and angled-decks to their WW2 straight deck aircraft carriers of Essex and Midway classes?

    A 100kN dry thrust demonstrator has been tested, as well as a 12,000hp propfan, making it the most powerful single-shaft propeller engine around, moreover, the propfan may be considered to replace the CFM56 and CFM-LEAP as it uses 30% less fuel and emmits 30% less CO2 at Mach 0.75 than a CFM56 while complies with noise regulation (which are very strict in the EU). Thrust vectoring is also available
    M88 can be a formidable upgrade for near all jet-fighters on market, even Su-27/30, MiG-29/35 and even Su-22, MiG-21, MiG-23/27, MiG-25, Gripen-C/D/E/F, Tejas Mk1/Mk1A, F-15, F-16, F-18, even if, in some cases (Su-27/30),

    Back to aircraft carriers :
    In fact, the French Mistral-class LHDs are modulars by sections of 15.5m. Making a 245.5m one would be OK. Now there are up to 27MW Mermaid pods (Mistrals have 2x7MW ones), using 2-3 pods would be enough, the 85,000t Queen Mary-2 cruise ship sails 30kt with 4x 21.5MW Mermad pods… Then… Mistral ships have enough height to install… a two stories aircraft hangar. You have 27m width free, so, with 150m length and 2 stories, you have 8100m²… Nimitz-class only has 6300m² hangars… Moreover, you only need a 180 ship-crew… The new gen of Siemens nuke turbines has 60% efficiency compared to the 30-35% on previous generation.This implies that, since you neither need steam for catapults nor electricity for EMALS, a single 150MWth Alstom K15 can provide 90MWe and drive 3x 27MW Mermaid pods = 110,160 hp. That is more than the DeGaulle CVN. The new 220MWth K22 would so provide 132MWe allowing 4x 27MW Mermaids (146,880hp) with 24MW left for ship’s use. Actually, these Siemens turbine make nuke-powered ships interesting even when oil is cheap… At $500M for a regular 199m Mistral ship, the hull being modular, the jumboization wouldn’t be expensive, there are Filipino shipyards that would be pleased to add an angled deck extension and ski-jump for cheaper than dirt, a K15 costs €150M, a GM403 radar costs $23M, if a full SAMP/T battery costs $191M with 48 ready to launch Asters and its own Arabel radar, 64 VLS shouldn’t cost a lot more. Mark my words, such an aircraft carrier can absolutely cost less than $1.5 billion, an airbase is likely to cost as much if not more, especially with hardened (or underground) hangars…

    Rafale, even at MTOW, can operate from small roads : it only takes 400m to take-off and 450m to land. You need at least a 1500m runway to operate F-15 or F-35A and when it comes to F-35B, after having made millions of dollars damages to airports, they’re banned from VSTOL use from all air shows on the planet. Be aware that USA had to reinforce the deck of the amphibious ships as F-35B melted these even in STOL take-offs! For vertical landing, it’s even worse : they had to make landing pads with liquid nitrogen piping. Even Harrier needed special pads and those the UK installed in West Germany during the cold war weren’t long to identify for Soviet satellites. In fact, the VSTOL option sounds appealing but, in the end, being “just” STOL and operating from a small portion of road like a Rafale, Gripen, Mirage-2000 or Viggen is the best option.


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