Now is the right time to develop an Electronic Warfare Burst!

Since the start of 2021, the French Rafale fighter plane from Dassault Aviation has enjoyed significant commercial success, with no less than 4 new orders or pre-orders placed by Greece, Egypt, Croatia and Indonesia, for a total of 96 devices. According to the Swiss press, it would also be favored by the Swiss authorities for the replacement of its F / A 18 Hornets and F5 tiger II, and other countries, such as India and the United Arab Emirates, are also approached for order this year or next year. It must be said that the Rafale in its current multi-mission F3R version, and even more so in its next F4 version which will bring it fully into the 5th generation, has no shortage of arguments to make. As comfortable in aerial combat as in attack missions, it offers rare versatility and a very favorable performance-price ratio. In addition, it has demonstrated its effectiveness in combat, and its excellent availability, particularly during the operational missions of the French nuclear aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle.

It is common to say that the Rafale can do everything from interception to air policing, from surgical targeted strike to nuclear mission. But there is one area for which the French aircraft is not well armed, that of electronic warfare, and the removal of enemy air defenses. Admittedly, the Rafale has a SPECTRA self-protection system reputed to be very efficient in thwarting enemy radar and missiles. In addition, its stealth, if it does not equal that of an American F35, still gives it excellent radar discretion, especially as the aircraft is able to fly perfectly at very low altitude and at high speed in automatic mode. , using natural relief to avoid detection. But it does not have, strictly speaking, the ability to neutralize enemy advanced air defenses, jamming their search and fire radars, and eliminating them with anti-radiation munitions, as can be done. make US Navy EA18G Growlers for example. However, this capacity would represent a very important added value for the French aircraft, both for the benefit of the national air forces, and in terms of export. As the number of air forces implementing the Rafale is set to expand rapidly, the time seems ideal to design a version of the aircraft specializing in electronic and cyber warfare and the elimination of anti-air defenses: the Rafale E.

The French Navy could also benefit greatly from a version dedicated to electronic warfare and the elimination of enemy radars from its Rafale M

To make the Rafale an electronic warfare aircraft, it is not enough to add a few HARM anti-radiation missiles and pod jammers. Indeed, electronic warfare and the removal of defenses require homogeneous capabilities, based on 4 main pillars:

  • A device having an energy power, in this case electric, sufficient to supply high power jammers. In addition, the crew must be protected from this high-energy radiation, and have a man-machine interface suitable for this mission, while retaining the inherent capabilities of the aircraft, such as self-defense using missiles. air-to-air. It must also have additional antennas and receivers enabling it to detect electromagnetic sources, to ensure their identification, location and neutralization.
  • High power electronic warfare and cyber warfare pods, since the two domains tend to merge now, in order to counter the detection capabilities of opposing radar systems
  • Anti-radiation air-to-ground munitions, commonly called anti-radar, capable of detecting and raising the electromagnetic beam of a radar station to destroy it
  • Finally, it is essential to have precise and up-to-date data concerning enemy radars, which the Air and Space Force will have at their disposal. the Archangel program

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