French Minister for Defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, authorized the start of development of the new Dassault Rafale F4 standard on March 20.
As early as 2023, a first version of the F4 standard will follow the F3-R standard, which is scheduled for qualification in 2018.
The F4 standard is intended to introduce improvements based on combat experience. New developments will include improvements networking and sensors. According to the French MoD, the F4 standard will also take into account ‘the expected evolutions of missiles, of the powerplant and the integration of new capabilities.’
The first fully equipped F4 Rafale should be introduced to service by 2025, but certain elements will be available as early as 2023.
A future decision will be made on the production of a fifth tranche of Rafale aircraft beyond the fourth tranche currently in production.
In the forthcoming May issue of Combat Aircraft, we review the latest combat use of the French Rafales under Operation ‘Chammal’:
Under Operation ‘Chammal’ — the French participation in Operation ‘Inherent Resolve’ — Rafales have been forward deployed in Jordan, and the French Air Force has reached a new level in power projection.