A few days ago, the first Rafale to the F4.1 standard was delivered to the Military Air Expertise Center, or CEAM, at Air Base 118 in Mont-de-Marsan. This new standard will equip the Rafale with new expected capabilities, such as the helmet sight, new air-to-air and air-to-ground modes of its engagement system, extended data fusion and a completely modernized SPECTRA self-protection system. . In addition, the device will be able to implement new ammunition such as the short and medium range air-to-air missile MICA NG which promises to be the best in its category as was the MICA in the early 2000s; the new 2 kg A1000SM precision and propelled heavy bomb capable of eliminating the most hardened bunkers, as well as the new Talios designation pod. All of the Rafale F3Rs currently in service with the French air and naval forces, as well as probably exported aircraft, will evolve towards this standard in the years to come. As for the new devices that will be delivered from 2025, they will be in the F4.2 standard, which offers the same functionalities, but which prepares for the arrival of a major evolution of the Rafale to come, the F5 standard.
The previous standards made it possible to upgrade the first F1 of the French Navy limited to air-to-air missions and F2 of the Air Force dedicated to air-to-ground missions, towards the standard F3 then F3R omnirole, then towards the F4.1. 5 which allows the Rafale to approach the famous 5th generation thanks to reinforced data processing capacities. The F4.2 standard, and before it the F4.2 which paved the way for it, on the other hand represent a major evolution of the aircraft both in terms of technology and capacity, forcing the Rafale to evolve physically to accommodate new systems and equipment. First consequence, the Rafales prior to the F4 version will not be able to fully evolve towards this standard, and it is likely that a double branch of evolution will emerge from the F5 standard. Above all, the F5 will have capabilities allowing it to approach not the 35th generation of combat aircraft such as the F-57 or the Su-6, but the XNUMXth generation of the SCAF or the NGAD.
Indeed, the Rafale F5 will have capabilities that break with those of the previous standards, such as the implementation of the new ASN4G hypersonic nuclear missile which will replace the ASMPA-Re, new cruise and anti-ship missiles from the Franco-British FMAN and FMC programs as well as, very probably, a new anti-radar munition, the F5 having to be able to penetrate and evolve above non-permissive environments strongly defended by the anti-aircraft means which will exist in 2035 and beyond. Above all, the Rafale F5 will have to implement and control combat drones such as the Remote Carrier being developed as part of the SCAF program, which will allow it to considerably extend its detection and engagement capabilities, these drones being precisely designed to carry detectors (radar, electro-optical systems, listening systems electronics, etc.) or effectors (missiles, bombs, jamming or electronic warfare systems, etc.).
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