The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) qualified the F4.1 standard for the Rafale fighter.
On March 13, 2023, the DGA approved this new standard, which focuses on improving the connectivity, air combat, and electronic warfare capabilities of the Rafale.
“The qualification of this standard mobilized several DGA centers of expertise and tests, in connection with test crews from the French Navy, the Air and Space Force, and Dassault Aviation,” the DGA explained in a statement.
The F4 standard will enter service in two phases in 2023 and 2025. All the Rafales of the French Air and Space Force and the Navy will be gradually retrofitted to this new standard.
“Operational experimentation by the Air and Space Force and the French Navy began on March 3, 2023, and a first landing on board the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is planned during the spring,” the DGA concluded.
What is the Rafale F4 fighter?
The main focus of the F4 standard is to enhance the connectivity of the Rafale with other systems by introducing new satellite and intra-patrol links, a communication server, and software radio.
This will enable the fighter to coordinate with other Future Combat Air System platforms, including the next-generation fighter aircraft (NGF) that France, Germany, and Spain jointly develop.
Additionally, the Rafale’s fighting capabilities will be improved with the integration of a helmet-mounted sight featuring augmented reality, a TALIOS pod (Targeting long-range identification optronic system) pod, both developed by the French manufacturer Thales. The Rafale F4 will also be able to drop 1-ton precision-guided bombs (AASM 1000 “Hammer”).
The French Air Force is already outlining the requirements for the F5 standard, which will further enhance the Rafale’s connectivity.
“When the F5 standard comes out, the plane will be very different,” explained General Stéphane Mille, the French Air Force Chief of Staff, in a parliamentary hearing. “The computing capacities to process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information require wiring that the Rafale as we know it today is not capable of supporting.”
The ASN4G, a hypersonic nuclear-capable ramjet missile, is also being developed by France and will first be operated by the Rafale F5 before the NGF.