PARIS — The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) took delivery of the first production-built Rafale fighter jet fitted with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the procurement office said Oct. 2.
Fielding the Rafale with an AESA radar is widely seen as an advantage in closely fought export markets. Current Rafale models are fitted with a passive array radar.
“The Rafale is the first European combat aircraft in service to benefit from AESA technology, which has been the subject of studies and previous demonstrators, and which is the fruit of more than 10 years of [research and development] effort in active arrays,” the DGA said.
The new Rafale jet, registered C137, is due to be handed over to the French Air Force and will be based at Mont de Marsan air base. The Rafale is also equipped with an improved missile launch detector and a new generation front sector optronic sensor, the DGA said.
The new radar allows the Rafale to use the Meteor long range air-to-air missile, offers greater reliability and lower support costs, and is harder to jam, Dassault Aviation and Thales said in a joint statement. Dassault builds the Rafale, Thales the radar.