SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG.
The French Ministry of Defence’s DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) and Dassault Aviation are likely to offer Rafale in F4 standard to the upcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) which India will be sending for procurement of 114 fighter jets later this year. With Dassault Rafale’s latest F3-R which India had ordered saw significant enhancements, including full integration of the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) with the AESA RBE-2 AA radar, integration of the Thales Talios targeting laser designator pod, and clearance of the laser-guided variant of the Safran AASM air-to-ground missile.
F4 standard Further system enhancements will be made to the Rafale’s sensor suite, including the RBE2 AESA radar, Talios targeting pod, and the OSF frontal sector optronics system. Likewise, the Spectra electronic warfare system will also receive improvements to maintain its ability to deter emerging threats. F4 standard will also be first to receive next-generation MICA NG air-to-air missile. Dassault Aviation has planned two developmental stages for the F4 standard, F4.1 in 2023 and F4.2 in 2025. M88 engine’s computer will also be upgraded to improve fault diagnosis assistance, preventative maintenance.
While there is considerable delay by India to issue RFP, it is expected that some of the F4 standard enhancements will be available for testing by 2022 and the same will be showcased to the IAF Test team when it is due for flight trials. Dassault Aviation is expecting at least 5-6 years from selection till contract stage to the first roll-out of Indian-made Dassault Rafale, so the switch to F4 standard could be made since after 2025, F3-R Standard production will stop while India can still prefer F3-R with some components of F4 to avoid cost price rise also.