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Rafale Dassault
Multi-Role Fighter

Instead of proceeding with the Eurofighter project, France decided to develop its own advanced next-generation fighter. First known as the ACX, this new design later became the Rafale. The design incoporates canards and a fly-by-wire control system for exceptional maneuverability as well as radar-absorbant paint and shaping contoured to improve stealth.

The Rafale C is a single seat attack fighter for the Air Force while the Rafale M is a navalized version designed to operate from French aircraft carriers. France originally planned to build 94 one-seat and 140 two-seat aircraft for the Air Force and 86 for the Navy. The Rafale is intended to replace the Air Force's Mirage III, Mirage 5, Mirage F.1, Jaguar, and Mirage IVP as well as the Navy's F-8 Crusader and Super Etendard.

Another 60 Rafales were ordered in 2008 committing France to purchasing a total of 286. By 2009, 60 had been delivered including 17 Rafale M models for the Navy. The production rate was also cut from 14 to 11 per year in a cost-saving measure.

Dassault has aggressively pursued export sales but has so far been unsuccessful completing an order. By 2011, discussions were ongoing with eight potential customers including Brazil, Libya, India, the United Arab Emirates, and Bulgaria.

Data below for Rafale C
Last modified 06 April 2011

First Flight (Rafale A) 4 July 1986
(Rafale C) 19 May 1991
(Rafale M) 12 December 1991
Service Entry

2002 (?)

CREW: (Rafale C, Rafale M) one: pilot
(Rafale B) two: pilot, systems officer



Wing Root unknown
Wing Tip unknown

Length 50.21 ft (15.30 m)
Wingspan 35.77 ft (10.90 m)
Height 17.54 ft (5.34 m)
Wing Area 494 ft² (46.00 m²)
including canards?
Canard Area


Empty 19,975 lb (9,060 kg)
Normal Takeoff 33,200 lb (15,060 kg)
Max Takeoff 47,400 lb (21,500 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 1,405 gal (5,325 L)
external: 1,745 gal (6,600 L)
Max Payload

17,635 lb (8,000 kg)

Powerplant two SNECMA M88-3 afterburning turbofans
Thrust 39,116 lb (174.0 kN) with afterburner

Max Level Speed at altitude: 1,320 mph (2,125 km/h) at 36,090 ft (11,000 m), Mach 2.0
at sea level: 864 mph (1,390 km/h), Mach 1.135
Initial Climb Rate unknown
Service Ceiling 65,000 ft (19,810 m)
Range typical: 1,000 nm (1,850 km) [interceptor mission]
1,180 nm (2,185 km) [low-level attack mission]
ferry: 2,000 nm (3,705 km)

+9.0 / -3.6

Gun one 30-mm DEFA 791B cannon
Stations twelve external hardpoints and two wingtip rails
Air-to-Air Missile MICA
Air-to-Surface Missile ASMP nuclear weapon, AS.39 Exocet, AS.30
Bomb 227/1000 kg LGB bombs
Other rocket pods, ECM pods

Rafale A Aerodynamic prototype slightly larger and heavier than the final production models, used GE F404 engines while the M-88 was under development
Rafale B Two-seat attack fighter/trainer, originally intended as a trainer only, but now envisioned as the primary production model
Rafale C One-seat attack fighter
Rafale D Slightly smaller and lighter version of the Rafale C employing greater stealth features
Rafale M Carrier-borne single-seat fighter, slightly heavier than the Rafale C due to addition of an arrestor hook and strengthened landing gear

KNOWN COMBAT RECORD: Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (France, 2002-present)
Libya - Operation Unified Protector / Harmattan (French Air Force, French Navy, 2011)

KNOWN OPERATORS: France, Armée de l'Air (French Air Force)
France, Aéronautique Navale (French Naval Air Arm)



  • Dassault Rafale site
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 309, Dassault Rafale.
  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 139-141, Dassault Rafale A, Rafale B/C/D, Rafale M.
  • Jackson, Robert. The Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft. London: Paragon Books, 2002, p. 107-108, Dassault Rafale.
  • Munro, Bob and Chant, Christopher. Jane's Combat Aircraft. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, p. 98-99.
  • Paul Nann's Military Aviation Photo Gallery
  • Taylor, Michael. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996/1997. London: Brassey's, 1996, p. 40-41, Dassault Rafale.
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London: Brassey's, 1999, p. 24-27, Dassault Rafale.

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