Entering service in the early 2000s, first in the French Navy and then in the Air Force, the Rafale is today the spearhead of the French air forces, and it will remain so for a few decades, several dozen devices remaining to be delivered , not to mention the additional orders to come. This longevity relies in one hand on the end of the Cold War, which stopped the usual rhythm of renewal of the combat planes, but also and especially with its very design, which allows it to be updated regularly, incrementally, without major structural changes.
For the past year, the Air Force and the Navy have thus started to update their Rafale fleet to the F3R standard, which includes a new active radar antenna (RBE2 AESA) from Thales, the METEOR very long-range air missile or the new generation TALIOS laser designation pod, which finally corrects the big flaws of the Damocles pod for short-range shots. In January 2019, however, even as the first Rafale F3Rs were delivered, the Minister of the Armed Forces officially launches the development of a new major standard for the Rafale , the F4.
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