Could RAFALE benefit from F-35 glitches?


JSF F-35 Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II

The British Harriers were to be replaced by the F-35Cs. Do you remember? You may have learnt from the recent news that the carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Joint Strike Fighter – CV JSF (Carrier Vessel variant’s Joint Strike Fighter) – F-35C was unable to catch the wire onboard the aircraft carrier during the latest landing tests.

Strange as it may seem, the F-35C’s designers may have not forecast what would unfold during a test flight while landing on an aircraft carrier:

The arresting hook (tailhook) never engaged the arresting wire as the clearance between the tail hook and the main landing gear’s tyre tread is too short for such a speed. An F-35C Lightning II missing her carrier landing has been reported even though some U.S. officials would have dismissed such information which might result from simulated tests.

Added to that is a software bug which had grounded the CV JSF for 6 days a few month earlier for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft might have encountered wing-folding input while flying!

As a result, the British Ministry of Defence might find a Plan-B solution as these design flaws, and some others which date back to November 2011 are deemed unacceptable for such an expensive fighter aircraft – $139.5 million for the F-35C (CATOBAR – Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery), and $150 million for the F-35B (STOVL – Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing). The latter can land on carriers but she is more expensive, and the JSF program costs have already increased several times.


Moreover, the JSF would not be able to fire AMRAAM air-to-air missiles as reported in this video:



RAFALE La Ferté Alais 2010 - © Xavier Cotton
RAFALE La Ferté Alais 2010 © Xavier Cotton

And there’s even more: according to a Pentagon study team report, 13 areas of concern that remained to be addressed in the F-35 would have been identified. For instance, the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) would not work properly…

The British MoD is therefore considering the purchase of either F/A-18E Super Hornets or RAFALEs for the RAF. The French Dassault which has already lost the Swiss NAC tender due to replace the Swiss Air Force’s F-5s, would be proposing a new offer with 18 RAFALEs at a cost deemed lower than the 22 SAAB Gripens’ one according to the Swiss press.

The RAFALE is still in competition with the Eurofighter in the Indian MMRCA tender. the Indian officials are expected to make a decision this week. To be continued… ==> We have just learnt (on January 31, 2012) that the RAFALE has won the MMRCA tender… :-)


Photo 1: © Recce 233 Savoie; Photo 2: © Xavier Cotton –

SAAB GRIPEN wins tender in Switzerland

11/30/2011 – The news broke today : The Swiss Air Force is to acquire 22 Sweedish SAAB GRIPEN fighter aircraft. The Swiss government had warned that they were compelled to squeeze their budget for this $3.36 billion bid as they could not afford to purchase the 33 fighter aircraft planned for the replacement of their F-5 Tiger fleet.

In spite of its outstanding performance during the tests as well as over the battlefields in Afghanistan, and in Libya, the Dassault Rafale was not chosen. Moreover, like the EADS Eurofighter/Typhoon, it was deemed too expensive for Switzerland could not buy as many aircraft within the budget allocated.

The Gripen is a good option for Switzerland since it is the cheapest one. The version to be delivered – JAS 39E/F or Gripen Demo/NG – is believed to be an excellent one – IRST (InfraRed Search and Track); ES-05 Raven AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar & SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar); Electronic Warfare (EW) systems; Helmet Mounted Sight and Display (HMSD)…

However, this new-generation Gripen NG is a single engine fighter aircraft. It was tactically outperformed by its opponents, and last but not least, it has not yet been produced. As a matter of fact, the Swiss should be involved in the R&D works.

RAFALE omnipresent at Paris Air Show 2011

RAFALE Le Bourget Airshow
RAFALE Le Bourget 2009 – Xavier Cotton

No other fighter aircraft will be as omnipresent at the Paris Air Show as the Rafale as it has been shorlisted for India’s MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) tender along with the Eurofighter. The IAF (Indian Air Force) is to order 126 multirole fighter aircraft for a deal of up to $10 billion. The French Dassault Rafale is still in competition with the Swedish SAAB JAS 39 Gripen, and the American F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in Brazil.

The Rafale also remains with the Gripen, and the Eurofighter in the Swiss NAC competition in order to replace the Swiss Air Force F-5s. The French Air Force has already demonstrated through the Rafale its combat readiness in Afghanistan, and over Libya. Its brand new reconnaissance pod Reco NG is now flying, and it managed to strike moving targets with its laser-guided AASM – Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon – beyond all expectations.

Its new Thales RBE2-AA AESA radar is still being developed. It has already been tested, and should be fully operational next year.

ToT (Transfer of Technology) has been pledged for the Rafale if the Indian government were to make its procurement decision.

Special thanks to Xavier Cotton, an aviation geek who provided the top left picture. Please visit his website full of fantastic posts about aircraft of all time as well as from everywhere.



First of all, it is not that simple. Last instance: The “World’s Armed Forces Forum” has recently posted a new topic relating to this Prepa PLS Anglais post: /rafale-vs-typhooneurofighter/ which was edited here on December 20, 2009. It is very clear that this was just a post to pass rumors on to other websurfers who may not have already read/heard such gossips.

This post may have been deemed as a preposterous one among the aviation community. That is why I then posted this post: /french-fighter-aircraft-performance/ in early 2010. Well, in hindsight I ought to add that I had forgotten that confrontation between the French Dassault fighter aircraft with the Eurofighter: the Rafales – there were only two of them according to the report – shot down four Typhoons during an exercise. Yes, twice as many…

The assumption that a Rafale might have shot down an F-22 Raptor left my readers in utter disbelief in 2009. Well, in hindsight again, I ought to add that I had forgotten to quote the Korean balance sheet about the Rafale performance, as I had forgotten that a United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) Mirage 2000-9 (variant of Mirage 2000-5 Mk.2) flown by a French pilot would have – virtually – shot down an F-22 Raptor as well…

RAFALE fighter aircraft aerobatics at La Ferté Alais airshow 2010
RAFALE La Ferté Alais 2010 © Xavier Cotton

I would never write anything like “an F-5 cannot down any French jetfighter”. Let us get real on this – I guess that either an F-5 or a MiG-21 could down any Mirage 2000 or Rafale. It depends on the radars; the sensors; the weapon systems used that day; the weather conditions; the pilots’ training; and their skills; the distance – BVR or WVR, not to mention autonomy; etc. When I read that some people remain adamant that any Rafale cannot have downed any F-22 Raptor, I think that they have the right to take such a stance. As I have the right to believe that they are wrong in their assertion. All-in-all, everything would be rumors… So, why should they care about them?

The pragmatic Swiss have honestly stated that they would be interested in the French Rafale for they got the results of their demanding NAC tests. However, due to a shrinking defense budget, they may not buy Rafales.

As far as the Brazilian, Emirati, Greek, and Indian (for MMRCA tender) media are concerned, they have already issued – at least once – breaking news according to which their countries would not purchase any Rafale for it would be “too expensive“.

Blimey! Let them buy what they like. I do not know whether it is worth paying for such performance because with these tenders, it is not a question of purchasing warplanes but foreign policies. Nonetheless, I would not be suprised to learn that some French Rafale pilots might be eager to challenge the brand new Chinese J-20 5th-generation fighter aircraft as it is deemed to be less performant than the F-22 Raptor.

If it were to happen – J-20 vs Rafale – the result would remain, as usual, among the rumors.   😉

Photo: © Xavier Cotton –