The French Rafale fighter will receive weapon and electronics upgrades. (Agence France-Presse)
PARIS — France has signed a development and integration contract worth around €1 billion (US $1.4 billion) to upgrade the Dassault Aviation Rafale fighter with arms and systems, including a long-range missile, and make improvements on a targeting pod and active electronic radar, the procurement office said in a Jan. 10 statement.
The deal, agreed by the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) Dec. 30, will raise the Rafale to a new F3-R standard, support jobs and is intended to boost the fighter’s export prospects.
“This is a very clear signal of our commitment to invest in the Rafale — certainly the fighter industry is a strategic sector — and to maintain its position at the highest world level,” Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on a visit to the Rafale plant at Mérignac, southwest France.
“It is also to have a guarantee to have over the long term a line of products which meet the demands of the export market,” he said.
Specialist publication Air & Cosmos reported the contract with prime contractor Dassault was worth €810 million.
The development program is a plan to prepare the Rafale for the environment in 2018, the DGA said.
The program will allow the upgraded Rafale to be armed with the MBDA Meteor, a radar-guided ramjet air-to-air missile. MBDA expects to receive €50 million, an industry executive said.
Thales signed a separate development contract worth €119 million for a new-generation laser-designated targeting pod, with production due in 2018. The pod will be available for Rafale and Mirage fighters, Thales said.
The electronics company will upgrade datalinks, the active electronically scanned array RBE2 radar and the Spectra electronic warfare system. MBDA is a partner on Spectra, providing an infrared function, while Thales supplies detection and radio jamming.
Thales receives about 25 percent of the value of the fighter program.
A laser version of the air-to-ground Sagem armement air-sol modulaire powered smart bomb will be integrated on the Rafale.
The French forces requested the smart bomb as it meets the rules of engagement requiring a man in the loop, an industry executive said. ■