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Dassault, the French aerospace company, has initiated the development of F5 Standard upgrades for its Rafale fighter jet. These upgrades will incorporate the latest systems, enabling the Rafale to effectively interact with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) such as Loyalwingman and Unmanned Stealth UCAVs. The integration of these capabilities is set to begin in 2030 and will provide backward compatibility, allowing current users of the Rafale, including India with its fleet of 36 Rafale 3FR jets, to seamlessly control and execute combat operations alongside various UAVs.

Dassault Aviation is actively working on these upgrades to enable the Rafale F5 to collaborate with the European Future Combat Aircraft System (FCAS) and other Loyal wingman programs being developed in Europe. However, it is currently unclear whether these upgrades will also facilitate interactions between the Indian variant of the Rafale and domestically produced Indian Loyal wingman and UCAVs.

This integration of unmanned aerial systems with the Rafale also promotes international cooperation and interoperability among allied nations. It aligns with the evolving nature of modern warfare, where seamless collaboration between manned and unmanned platforms is becoming increasingly crucial.

With Dassault’s focus on enabling the Rafale to interact with unmanned aerial systems, the future of air combat is poised to witness enhanced capabilities and expanded operational possibilities. These upgrades will ensure that the Rafale remains a highly capable and adaptable fighter jet, capable of effectively addressing the evolving challenges of the modern battlefield.

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