Extensive French Rafale Upgrade Programme Begins
On 12 July 2012, the first Rafale fighter landed at the Aeronautical Industrial Workshop (Atelier Industriel de l’ Aéronautique, AAI) at Clermont-Ferrand. This is the first outcome of the contract to upgrade French Air Force Rafale fighters, which was awarded to the AAI in February 2011.
Until now, related modifications were carried out by a detachment of technicians from Clermont-Ferrand at the Mont-de-Marsan air base, in south-western France. After an initial phase-in, the single-seat Rafale serial no C106 will become the first of 52 similar aircraft to instead be modified and upgraded at the AAI’s Clermont-Ferrand facility.
Following on to the work carried out to bring the French Navy’s first 10 Rafale Ms to the latest standard, which the AAI began in November 2011, this facility is fast becoming the focal point for maintenance and upgrade work on the French armed force’s latest generation of aircraft.
Upgrade work on the French Air Force Rafale fleet began in February 2011 at Mont-de-Marsan and, since then, thirteen aircraft have already been modernized. Today, to increase the pace of the upgrade, and after a training period, the AIA will begin a four-year upgrade cycle of Rafale two-seaters and single seaters.
The modifications will give Rafale enhanced capabilities in the field of communications, interoperability and data exchange with ground troops.
The AIA at Clermont-Ferrand is one of the facilities Aeronautical Industrial Service (SIAé) along with those located at Bordeaux, Cuers-Pierrefeu Ambérieu, in Brittany. The service is headquartered in Paris.
The main tasks assigned to the AIA are conducted for the benefit of the French armed forces. They consist in the maintenance of aircraft (Mirage 2000, Mirage F1, AlphaJet, Transall, Puma, Gazelle), of related equipment, and the modernization of aircraft and of special installations for the three services.
Source: Ministry of Defence (France) News - 18 July 2012
Photo: The French Air Force First Rafale Arrives in Clermont-Ferrand (Photo by FAF)