France to Upgrade 10 Rafale-Ms to Latest F3 Standard
The first ten Rafale Marine fighters delivered to the French Navy in the early 2000s will be upgraded from their current F1 standard to the latest F3 standard, according to Christophe Carpentier, head of the French defense procurement agency’s “Operation Rétrofit F1-F3”.
Carpentier says that his mission is to monitor contracts related to this modernization effort, and coordinate the work of different stakeholders. These include Dassault Aviation, MBDA, Thales, Sagem, and government agencies such as the aviation industrial service (SIAé), the Navy and the integrated structure for operational maintenance of defence ministry aviation equipment (SIMMAD).
The first ten Rafale Marine aircraft delivered in the early 2000s were “standard F1” aircraft. They were qualified only for air-to-air operations and for in-flight refueling.
The retrofit operation will radically transform these aircraft, and give them the same operational capabilities as the latest Standard F3 aircraft, which are currently in production.
Specifically, this will translate into new operational capabilities and missions, which will include ground attack, reconnaissance, and the capability for nuclear strike.
One of the challenges of the project is the control of key events, such as the entry of an aircraft into the retrofit program, or the completion of airframe modifications by the SIAé. Keeping control of the schedule is paramount considering that the final assembly of retrofit aircraft will be integrated into the main Rafale assembly line.
to intercalate in the production chain. Chaque phase doit donc être parfaitement cadencée pour ne pas désorganiser l'ensemble de la production industrielle des Rafale.
Each phase must thus be perfectly timed and carried out so as not to disrupt the entire industrial production of Rafale. This requires a lot of anticipation and constant management of risks and imponderables.
Source: French Ministry of Defence; issued April 20, 2012)
Photo: French Navy Rafale M landing on the Charles de Gaulle carrier February 5, 2012 (Photo by blog.daum.net)