The French Air Force and the Navy have declared the latest version of the Rafale fighter jet — the F-3R standard — as fully operational.
The two services announced the FOC (full operational capability) of the aircraft on March 8. According to Janes, this announcement will allow the French forces deployed with the carrier Charles de Gaulle and in Jordan (as part of Op Chammal) to fly the latest variant of the Rafale fighter jet.
The Rafale F3-R achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in December 2019, while acceptance trials were carried out in 2020. Interestingly, the first French F3-R Rafale flight had an Indian co-pilot.
India has purchased 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, of which 11 have already been delivered to the Indian Air Force.
“The Air and Space Army is contributing to the rise of the Indian Air Force on the use of the Rafale. It was therefore natural that the Indian partners could realize the possibilities offered by the Talios Pod,” a press release issued by the French Defense Ministry had said.
This first flight was conducted in September last year by the fighter and experimentation squadron of the Center of Military Air Expertise (CEAM), whose core business consists of testing future equipment.
The Rafale F3-R
The Rafale is a twin-engine tailless canard delta-wing omnirole fighter aircraft developed and manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions.
The latest F3-R addition brings in major avionics upgrades, including the latest TALIOS long-range airborne targeting pod, combining targeting and reconnaissance into a single “plug-and-fight” system on all existing and future fighters.
Another notable addition is the integration of Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile and the AASM Hammer precision-guided munition, giving it a major weapons upgrade over the previous standards.