According to Eurasia Times, India continued to receive a new batch of Rafale fighters a few days ago, and Egypt also signed a second Rafale purchase agreement with France.

The Rafale is a twin-engine multirole fighter with a delta wing design. This is the most advanced 4++ generation fighter and is currently the most interested countries in the world; Although the price is not cheap. Rafale is equipped with advanced radar and weapons, capable of carrying out missions of suppression, interception, reconnaissance, air support, deep attack on enemy territory, anti-ship and nuclear deterrence.

The Rafale was developed as a competitor to the European Typhoon fighter. France withdrew from the Typhoon fighter program of Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, due to differences in defense strategies. Then France developed its own fighter. The first Rafale prototype was launched in July 1986.

The Rafale is different from other European fighters, as it is almost entirely built by a single country, France, with the main defense contractors being French companies such as Dassault, Thales and Safran. The avionics, such as the RBE2AA active phased array radar, the Infrared search and track (IRST) sensors, and control software, are both developed and manufactured in France.

The Su-35 is the latest product of the Flanker family, based on the Su-27. The Su-35 is a temporary transition plan, before the Russian military is fully equipped with Su-57 fifth-generation fighter. Basically, the Su-35 was originally designed for export, with a completely new cockpit, advanced weapons control systems and thrust vectoring engines; but it was finally put into service with the Russian Air Force in 2009.

The Su-35 is a twin-engine multirole fighter, equipped with the Irbis-E Passive electronically scanned array radar (PESA) which is the core of the weapons control system. This radar can detect aerial targets 400 km away, can track 30 targets at the same time and attack 8 of them. However, there are doubts about the performance of the Irbis-E radar. The Su-35 is classified as a 4++ generation fighter, but the performance of the avionics system is rated as inferior to that of its competitors. It is the only type of the 4++ generation, not equipped with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

Su-35 experienced real combat in the Syrian battlefield. It performed a number of bombing missions, however its main mission was to escort the Su-30SM and other aircraft. Compared to Rafale, the Su-35 was born later and still needs to accumulate enough combat experience. The Su-35 can use a variety of air weapons, including cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles and anti-radiation missiles. But the important thing is that Rafale can carry nuclear weapons; In this respect, the French fighter has the advantage.

When the Air Force chooses a fighter, reliability is also an important factor. Russian fighters are relatively reliable, but French fighters have more advanced technology and better weapons. Therefore, for India and Egypt, which are in possession of the Su-30, their best choice is the French Rafale. This can help diversify the two countries’ weapons and strategic allies.


  1. Rafale wasn’t built as a competitor to Typhoon! The Eurofighter was supposed to become Rafale as the starting program was about making a multirole carrier capable arcraft, BUT BAe wanted more than 25% workshare through lobbying against Rafale in Germany by:

    1.) Pushing that as they had Tornado as a strike aircraft, it’d be cheaper to build an air superiority aircraft only… How funny, Typhoon ends way more expensive than Rafale and inferior for superiority. Today, Tornado is outdated and Tornado+Typhoon users are doomed into not retiring Tornado or lose most of their strike potential.

    2.) With Royal-Navy going sea-control ships wiith VSTOL aircraft, UK pretended it”s more expensive to build a carrier-capable aircraft. Carrier-capable Rafale-M is cheaper than Typhoon and other versions are even cheaper.

    3.) BAe convinced the Germans that their MBB TKF90 project had superior aerodynamics to Rafale and that according to their study,with the few improvement they designed, Typhoon would prevail on any point… Not really the case : TKF90 was started in 1972, just like Mirage-2000/4000… Go look at Mirage-2000 and Mirage-4000 doing aerobatics… Typhoon is from the same era and can be seen as a competitor to the Mirage family. Rafale is one generation ahead.
    It didn’t took a lot more than flattering Messerschmitt’s ego to drive the German govt into BAe’s trap.

    4.) Nonetheless Typhoon is extremely expensive to buy, it’s also very expensive to use.

    5.) France sees geopolitics at other levels than the UK or Germany, thanks to previous centuries explorators, France ends with islands and overseas territories everywhere, then owning the biggest of all EEZs, even bigger than the US or the Russian ones… You don’t trash your CATOBAR capability while having more maritime area to protect than the USA.
    Note that Rafale is also STOBAR capable and since the M88 engine was created with a core allowing up to 115kN engines to be delivered within 18 months after the order, the two 75kN-max engines already allow a 5.4t payload in STOBAR… If the already available 98kN version that was created on India’s request, Rafale-M gets 4.69 tons more thrust than with the two 75kN… 20 tons thrust when you have a 24.5t MTOW is interesting, but let’s consider twin 115kN : it’s a total of 23.47t of max-thrust, actually, if made to sit on the tail like the old SNECMA Coléptère/Flying Atar, itd still be able to vertically take off with about 8.5t payload… F-35B cannot!

    6.) Without the post Cold-War budget cuts, the Mistral-Class LHD were supposed to be longer and a longer version with ski-jump was proposed to Australia. Actually these ships being modular, jumboization is easy you can consider 214.5m, 230m, 245.5m. Mark my words, with 2x115kN, a 230m run and a ski-jump is enough for a fully loaded Rafale-M… Jumboized Mistral class; 230m Juan Carlos/Canberra-class, 245m Cavour-class, USN’s 257m LHDs added w. ski-jump as well as Indian/Russian/Cinese carriers are OK to take-off. Just add sponsons to build an angled deck on LHDs to deck land it… Actually, with only 120km/h stall speed, even arrestor cables on straight decks would be OK : I don’t think a WW2 Zero Hellcat or Corsair could fly as slow. Actually, a M88 propfan demonstrator was tested providing 12,000hp… Weight is similar to the E-2 Hawkeye’s engine… Even with a single CVN, France can easily customize any European or US LHD/LHA to operate Rafale-M while its engine propfan version can make the E-2 STOBAR-OK too… The retired ships in US Tarawa and Wasp classes would be very easy to convert…

    7.) OSF-IT ain’t an IRST, it’s a 2nd gen QWiP… When Chinese spoke about their 1st gen QWIP tests, some bad translations led idiots about telling China was into quantum radars… QWIP means Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector. OSF-IT data are classified but 1st gen OSF aren’t any more… Detection range on a subsonic F-22 was 90-155km… On a Mach1.8 F-22, it was… 270-455km !!!
    OSF-IT is not the only 2nd gen QWIP system for Rafale : DDM-NG (Rafale’s EODAS), the TALIOS pod and the AREOS pods are so… Therefore, you can expect these to “team” like multi-mirror telescopes. A 3rd gen QWIP is under development.

    8.) French ONERA (kinda NASA or JPL except they don’t launch rockets, such things being ESA’s job) started to work on active cancellation of radar waves in 1960.
    Those with mindset stuck with US outdated 1st gen Picasso stealth won’t admit that Rafale is 5th gen, nevertheless, it’s stealth, Typhoon or Su-35 aren’t.
    Actually, Rafale had a hard time exporting at the start as in the early 00’s, most of 4th gen fighters were still relevant…
    In 2009, ONERA head of DEMR (EM/radar) dept went public about the agency having solved the huge issues of using plasma for stealth purposes, adding they’d need 10-15 years to integrate into a jet fighter… Guess which would be the jet fighter for a French plasma-stealth system. I didn’t noticed this feature in English translations but the Rafale F4.1 upgrade specs in French stipulated “reinforcement of stealth”… In 2017, Air & Cosmos published a cmmuniqué saying that M51.3 upgrade for the M51 SLBM as well as future ASN4G nuclear ALCM would get plasma stealth. M51.3 is now here, as well as Rafale F4.1 upgrade being in final test phase : existing aircraft will start getting the F4.1 in 2022, new aircraft deliveries are schedule for 2023

    9.) Rafale F4 standard implies more powerful engines than the usual 75kN ones. This will allow sustained Mach2 (Rafale is already Mach2 capable, but only for 2-3 minutes).
    This will also extend MTOW and payload which is likely to raise over F-15E’s…
    Note that more powerful M88 are ALREADY available as options… Since Safran tested a 100kN dry-thrust demonstrator, my personal choice for a land-based Rafale would be two non-afterburner 100kN M88s : c’mon, Mach 2 in supercruise!!! I’d also consider ordering the 115kN afterburner thrusters with Rafale-M if I was Indian navy : MiG-29K has too many issues for carrier use, most of the time these end land-based. With 2x115kN in STOBAR for take-off purposes alone and 100kN dry thrust for everything else, you can’t imagine better fit for STOBAR ops.

    10.) Reliability : remember that at best, Flankers’ engines need full factory overhaul every 1000 hours, more likely 800h and by 3000h, your engine will already end into the trashbin.
    Safran M88’s core overhaul happens only after 4000h, the engine being modular with great FADEC, you don’t have to return full engines to the factory, only modules you cannot fix on-site or in your maintenance center, the engine won’t end trashes too.
    India is Russia’s #1 client and long had troubles to maintain a 30% availability for the Su-30 fleet. By reorganising logistics and also Putin warning Flanker subsystems suppliers to stop delivering crappy spare parts with insane delays to Indie, it’s now just over 50% availability.
    When IAF participated the Red Flag drill, after flying many thousands miles to join the drill Su-30MKIs had issues to take-off again… IAF had to call Putin to fast track spare engines delivery to Red Flag… It seems that USAF wasn’t very comfy with a RuAF Il-76 landing on an US base… The Rafale contract with India stipulate that in case availability falls under 85%, Dassault will have to pay huge compensations…

    11.) Rafale could already use the nEUROn UCAV demonstrator as a wingman in the early 10’s. nEUROn could already drop JDAMs in 2014… When Boeing shows its Loyal Wingman mockups, Airbus is already flight testing demonstrators for the 6t gen European FCAS. With Rafale having 3 hardpoints rated for up to 4 tons load, my 2cts that Airbus remote carriers won’t be used first by the 6t gen FCAS.

    12.) Rafale’s all included hourly cost is $10-12k/hour with the 75kN engines…
    Su-30 already costs $32,000 per hour, Su-35 having more powerful engines, hourly cost can only increase.
    Other points are maintenance : a Flanker in intensive use will fly 3 missions per 24h, it’s similar fir F-15/16. The most reliable airraft using US engines use the F/A-18’s ones (F404 and F414) allowing 4 missions per 24h.
    THX to M88, Rafale’s normal use is 6 missions a day while in intensive use, during the 2011 Libyan campaign, the 9 Rafale-M onboard the DeGaulle CVN did 100 missions per 24 hours… This is an average 11 missions per 24h per aircraft…
    This means that, in case of conflict, even w.o. the 5th gen features or of having better missiles, a Rafale does the job of 3.5x F-16s or four Su-30/33, or 6 MiG-29M/K or 8 MiG-29…
    Consider the 36 Rafales ordered by India, it’s equivalent to having 126 F-16s or 144 Su-30, except that don’t hope F-16’s or Su-30/35 presence being unnoticed by radars…
    For Egypt with 54 units, this means the job of 189x F-16 or 216x Su-35

    +++”Although the price is not cheap”
    Actually, Rafale’s flyaway cost is cheaper than the $76M India pays per Su-30MKI, Rafale-C is a little more expensive than a Super-Hornet
    BUT just dig this: except for the USA, thanks to their huge fleet and overuse of simulators… Average NATO fighter pilot flies 160 hours a year and you have 3 pilots per aircraft in order to sustain 3 shifts in case of conflict. Actually, NATO calls for 180h/pilot/year…
    So you can assume the average peace-time annual use of a jet fighter is 480h…
    With Super-Hornet costing US$24,000/h (source RAAF), F-16 at $23,000/h; $27k for MiG-29, $32k for Su-30, $44k for F-15C, $65k/h for F-35A, $69k/h for F-22…
    So, do your maths, because the cost of aircraft is not only the purchase cost : the lifelong cost of a F-35A is over 1 billion dollars, India is not far having spent half a billion dollars (in inflation-corrected costs) per MiG-29 while, over 50 years of use, a Rafale won’t cost the half of it!

    Other hilarious thing are dudes that take the amount of any aircraft contract and divide by the number of aircraft, forgetting that arms contracts include many other things : usually, missiles, bombs etc add, then you may have lotsa other things, e.g. latest Rafale contract with Egypt includes a spy satellite and some A330-MRTT refuellers, previous one included navy vessels, etc… There may be facilities (Rafale contract w. India has the modernisation of two airbases, 2 simulators, a maintenance center for 150 aircraft) as well as offsets to be reinvested in the country’s industries, those wanting transfers of technologies, if granted, will have to pay big for this because… Do you know any company willing to lose billions in dollars by letting other companies willingly produce their goods?

    Now, be it for India, Egypt, India and also Indonesia and why not others, there’d be VERY clever things to do that would help sparing money, thus helping the modernisation of the whole fleet:
    The Rafale’s engine can be delivered with 50kN to 100kN dry thrust and 75kN-115kN afterburner thrust… Thanks to its reliability, ease of maintenance and fuel management, you can cut about 50% of the cost of use if mounted on another jet fighter, moreover, this engine is VERY small : 3.53m long for 69.6cm diameter… I think that the few supersonic combat aircraft with smaller diameter engines are only the SEPECAT Jaguar and the F-5 Tiger and since a Jaguar was modified to fit the Honneywell F125 used by Taiwan’s F-CK-1 with bigger diameter than M88, a non-afterburner 50kN M88 can be considered
    Those knowing about Rafale-A demonstrator know that the combat aircraft only retains the general shape, but also that since the M88 engine wasn’t available, the demonstrator, as well as a single engine variant that later was to be built by HAL, were designed with the Hornet’s F404 engine.
    When M88 became available, within 6 months, Dassault had M88 mounted, flight tested and validated for Rafale-A…
    Such practise is nothing new, Israel mounted J79 (used by F-4, F-104, etc) into Kfirs which were nothing else than refurbised Nesher (Mirage-5) that were allegedly delivered into crates sent “(not so) secretly” by Dassault… Since the undercover transfer of technology was vented in Switzerland, Israel then being unable to build the Atar engine, switched to the more powerful and of lesser diameter J79… There are many cases of engine swaps in aviation history, but when you know that M88 already takes more than 1 cubic metre less volume than the F/A-18’s F404/414 which is/was also used for Tejas, Gripen, Golden-Eagle, KAI KF-21, X-59 QueSST, T-7 Red Hawk, Boeing Phantom Ray, X-45C, A-6F Intruder II, X-29, F-117 Nighthawk, F-20 Tigershark, Rockwell-MBB X-31, A-4SU Super Skyhawk, nonetheless these are easy to upgrde as the F404=>M88 conversion already hasworking blue prints, but it can also be done on many other aircraft…
    In some cases, M88 can even free about 3-4 m³ of room inside the airframe!

    If you consider Egypt, India, Indonesia, M88 being available in any thrust from 50kN to 115kN, most of their fleets can be upgraded :
    Tejas, Mirage-2000, Jaguar, MiG-21 (Egypt still keeps ’21s in reserve), F-16, MiG-29, KAI T-50, but more surprising, Safran prepared a vectored thrust version. They stopped to propose this as, to this day, only Rafale uses M88, and being already able to perform 11G manoeuvres, VT would be useless…
    Err, Su-27/30 AL31F engine brings 74.5 kN dry thrust and 122.58 kN afterburner thrust… So, in mst powerful feasible version, M88 can provide more dry thrust, likely allowing supercruise and near as much afterburner thrust, thus, since each M88 cuts about 623kg in weight, well, two AL-31F have 1.55t more thrust than M88/115kN but the aircraft ends 1246kg lighter…
    Then… Your Flanker can stuff a lot lot more internal fuel: two M88 just take 10.04m³ less volum than AL31F (!!!)… Even if you may lose about 300kg in payload, in case of ong range CAP (combat ar patrol), A2A missiles are pretty light, but large external fuel tanks will mean so much drag that you can’t even go supersonic…
    now, the Saturn engines have so big diameter you can even consider adding a small jet engine like the Adour or the J85. The 37.6kN of the Adour added to 115kN wih M88 = 152.6kN : this is more than the Su-35’s AL41F-1S with 137.3kN afterburner and 142.2kN emergency thrust… To be frank, I’d be tempted to consider two small ramjets and two rocket engines that may have a kinda crude vectored thrust so you can use these either as JATO or as an emergency boost. The advantage of ramjets are very easy maintenance (no moving parts) and better efficiency at high speed, thus these are near useless in subsonic… A little fact : Su-35 shares the Su-30’s MTOW.

    Another interesting thing, especially if you make a lot of room in a Flanker: even Su-30 can get Su-35’s radar absorbing skin, this is what India’s upgrade program is about, but if you may consider M88 onboard, there will be so much room left that you can also stuff the Rafale’s SPECTRA suite with actve stealth and consider fittng two RBE-2/AESA each covering a 60° side/rear area… This maybe rather interesting: some may not get that the actual Flanker’s radar has freaking long range allowng to acquire targets at 400km to be attacked by R-37M. R-37M an’t made to deal with jet fighters, but jet fighters will lose refueller and AWACS support to it!!!
    Once RBE-2/AESA is onboard, then you can integrate Meteor and MICA-NG/EM (MICA-IR and therefore MICA-NG/IR is already integrate on Su-30MKI, as well as I-Derby-ER, thanks to India, which did it despite Russians forbad this…

    If India fits M88 on Flankers and MiG-29 alone, they will spare enough to pay for two brand new Rafale squadrons every year (on flyaway cost term). If Egypt fits M88 in its 218 F-16, they will spare enough for a brand new Rafale squadron every year…
    Even old MiG-21 or J-7 can benefit, thus, to make ’em really relevant, you’d better consider the JL-9 or Ye-8 noses wih lateral or under-chin intakes, the Ye-8’s canards and the J-7E or upper versions’ double delta-wings… These are heavy mods but you really ge a 4++ gen MiG-21 🙂

    IMHO, since Rafale can fill the job of heavy fighters, its little brother Tejas (Tejas is a Dassault demonstrator design bought by India) has huge potential if… not made by HAL : Dassault+DRDO are backing an improved version with M88, RBE-2/AESA, OSF-IT, SPECTRA, additional internal fuel, 500kg cut in empty weight and even a RBS parachute. The Dassault audit at HAL’s estimated the cost per unit to $45-46M… Well, with M88/98kN, you end with an aircraft with an as powerful engine than Mirage-2000-9 (UAE only, payload extended to 6800kg) which has as much if not more internal fuel but weights about 1700kg less… and using Rafale’s steealth features, combat systems and weapons as well as usual Tejas ones… Remember that F-16 only has only 3200L internal fuel… Here you will have at least as muc, maybe more. You may even consider the 100kN dry-thrust-only M88, the engine will cut even more in empty weight and no need for afterburner = you can fly twice as long with balls to the wall… Blue-prints included structural reinforcements => weapon stations can cary more weight, the airframe takes 11G.
    Now you have a light combat aircraft on par with mid-weighted F-16 with 5th gen features, better missiles at $45M/unit instead of $120M for F-16V (well, other sources say $91M) and with hourly cost of $6-7k insted of $23k…
    With such cost of use, Nepal, Cambodiia, Brunei, Sri-Lanka, Latvia, Lithuania, Letonia and many small countries can consider to use at least two squadrons while today they have no jet fighters at all!
    The use of F-16 squadron costs over $200 millions a year, 18 Rafales will cost about $90M/year, 18 Rafalised Tejas about $50M/y.
    With custom multiple hardpoints for 5 Meteors and 3 MICAs, you can easily consider a huge belly drop tank, 20 Meteors and 6 MICA-NG/IR…

    Getting M88 onboard would really improve air forces of Vietnam, Taiwan, while the Philippines can consider to build a real jet-fighters force, even New-Zealand could consider to do so, and they’d better not consider themselves sheltered while a country that is building 4 aircraft carriers and 8 LHDs might be lurking about Australia’s ressources and size with small population. If I was into invading Australia, I’d first consider having bases in NZ, Papua and Timor Leste, especially since they’re defenceless, while aircraft carriers will wreck havoc W/SW/S : with RAAF that went totally wrong getting F-35 (even their generals called it “an error of casting”), PLAAF and PLANAF really can do a divide’n’conquer on RAAF and RAN… Even Super-Hornet is not adapted. Actually, in a case like Australia, the best way to go would probably be Su-30/M88 and Rafale, while NZ woud need Rafale+Tejas and so is it for Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here