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Aero India 2023

France invests 1 bln euro to develop next-gen Rafale

The Rafale fighters of French Navy. An MoD photo

MERIGNAC, FRANCE (BNS): France has awarded its aerospace major Dassault Aviation a contract worth about 1 billion euro ($1.3 billion) to develop a new standard of the Rafale fighter aircraft, designated "F3 R".

The contract, notified by the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) on December 30 last year, was signed during French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's visit to Dassault's Merignac plant on January 10.

The new "F3 R" standard will be the latest evolution of the twin-engine delta-winged multi-role 4.5-generation Rafale fighter.

The new configuration will integrate many new armaments and equipment including the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile, a new-generation laser pod for carrying out air-to-ground strikes and the latest version of AASM laser-guided bomb. It will also feature new electronic components for the fighter.

The launch of the new standard will help the French forces to continue to have a high-performance aircraft and adapted to their needs, besides reinforcing the advantages of Rafale in export competitions, Dassault said.

Validation of the new standard is scheduled for 2018, the company said.

France is aggressively pushing the Rafale in the international defence market, with India being the only customer so far in deciding to buy the fighter for its Air Force's medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) requirement.

Efforts to sell the fighter elsewhere, in Brazil and UAE, have failed.

All Rafale fighters produced so far have been inducted in the French Air Force and French Navy only.


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