Two F4-1 Rafale aircraft test flew for the first time last month as part of the “readiness for use review campaign” in France’s Istres, the Directorate General for Armaments (DGA) revealed in a statement.
The fleet of eight Rafales, two Mirage 2000s, and two Alphajets performed eight “complex missions ” representing 50 sorties, the French Defense Procurement and Technology Agency stated.
The aircraft were tested in simulated battle conditions, including air-refueling operations.
“The Rafale F4.1 was thus able to be tested, in a realistic technical-operational framework: the crews, equipped with SCORPION helmet sights, were able to implement the new collaborative combat functionalities, in particular, the precise localization of other aircraft by passive means within a patrol,” the statement added.
#France begins flight trials of F4-standard @Dassault_OnAir #Rafale. Some functions set to enter service in 2022, with wider configuration being rolled out about 2025. Is the latest in up to 7 enhancement packages designed to take jet out to 2070! https://t.co/ogrYDxef6G pic.twitter.com/7d9KJ4EgHN
— Gareth Jennings (@GarethJennings3) May 21, 2021
The F-4 Standard
The F4 standard marks the technological progress the aircraft has made over its predecessors, its manufacturer Dassault stated.
The aircraft, currently under development, comes “in the wake of standard F1 (specific to the first aircraft of the French Navy), F2 (air-to-ground and air-to-air capabilities), F3 and F3R (extended versatility).”
The upgraded aircraft will offer additional capabilities such as a helmet-mounted display to provide better situational awareness to the pilot in the form of an enhanced image of the scene.
It will also have better radar sensors and front sector optronics, which provides surveillance, tracking, and identification of multiple targets.
Moreover, new weapons such as the Mica NG air-to-air missile and 1,000-kg AASM Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon will provide additional strength to the aircraft’s offensive capabilities.
Meanwhile, the aircraft will now undergo another round of flight trials to assess its capabilities in the field of “air-surface missions,” the DGA revealed.