First Rafale M Flight for French Navy 17F Airwing Following SEM Decommissioning

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Naval Forces News - France
 
 
 
First Rafale M Flight for French Navy 17F Airwing Following SEM Decommissioning
 
The first flight of a Rafale M multi-role fighter belonging to the French Navy (Marine Nationale) fighter airwing 17F took place on September 19 2016 at the Landivisiau naval air base. The event follows the decommissioning of the Super Etandard Modernisé or SEM on July 12th (see our coverage of the event).
     
The first flight of a Rafale M multi-role fighter belonging to fighter airwing 17F took place on September 19 2016 at the Landivisiau naval air base. The event follows the decomissioning of the Super Etandard Modernisé or SEM on July 12th.
First Rafale M flight for 17F at the French Navy Naval Air Station Landivisiau in Brittany.
Picture: French Navy

     
The commander of the 17F gathered all pilots and members to celebrate this first flight, a unique moment for this airwing established in 1958.

By 2017, the French Navy expects to receive the last of the ten Rafale M "F1" upgraded to "F3" standard as well as three more new aircraft. The total number of Rafale M fighters in the latest "F3" standard deployed by the French Navy will then be 42.

The French Carrier Air Group consists of three fighter airwings (Flottiles in French: 11F, 12F and 17F), The E-2C Hawkeye Flottile (4F) and a detachment from Helicopter Flottile 35F for Search and Rescue. Flotilles 11F and 12F were already flying on Rafale M while the 17F was flying on Super Etendard Modernisé (SEM) until this summer. With the SEM now retired from service, aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is transitioning to a "100% Rafale" fighter air wing.

In October 2014, the French Navy took delivery of the first Rafale M upgraded to the F3 standard.

The transition from the F1 standard to the F3 standard involves the following changes:
» New modular electronic computers,
» New cockpit screens,
» Changes to the aircraft’s electrical wiring,
» Upgrading of the Spectra countermeasures system,
» Changes to the RBE2 PESA radar (interchangeable with the new AESA antenna),
» Changes to the weapon store stations.

The delivery of the retrofitted Rafale Marine aircraft is staggered over a period up to 2017.

The F3 standard provides the Navy and Air Force Rafale with complete versatility to carry out the following missions:
» Interception and air-to-air combat with 30mm gun and Mica IR/EM missiles (+ Meteor missiles from 2018 onwards).
» Ground support with 30mm gun, GBU-12/24 laser-guided bombs and Hammer precision-guided bombs.
» In depth strikes with Scalp cruise missiles.
» Sea strikes with the Exocet AM39 Block 2 missile and other air-to-surface weapons.
» Real-time strategic and tactical reconnaissance with the Areos pod.
» In-flight refueling from one Rafale to another (“buddy-buddy”).
» Nuclear deterrence with the ASMP-A missile.
     
The first flight of a Rafale M multi-role fighter belonging to fighter airwing 17F took place on September 19 2016 at the Landivisiau naval air base. The event follows the decomissioning of the Super Etandard Modernisé or SEM on July 12th.
The Rafale M F3R during the evaluation campaign with the French Navy. Picture: French Navy
     
Future F3R standard

In December 2014, the French Navy evaluated the future F3R standard of the Rafale with Meteor missiles.

Compared to the latest F3 standard currently in service, the future F3R standard will also allow the Rafale M to carry the new laser designation pod in its air to ground missions and a new refueling pod essential in operations around the CSG (carrier strike group).

The first Rafale M F3R is expected to enter operational service with the French Navy around 2020.
     
The first flight of a Rafale M multi-role fighter belonging to fighter airwing 17F took place on September 19 2016 at the Landivisiau naval air base. The event follows the decomissioning of the Super Etandard Modernisé or SEM on July 12th.
Rafale M F3 "M42" was on static display at Paris Air Show 2015
 

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