In the late 1970s, the French Air Force and Navy were seeking to replace and consolidate their current fleets of aircraft.
The Rafale project began in the late 1970s as the French Navy and Air Force sought to replace their fleet for airial supremacy and reconnaissance, and to supplement the upcoming Mirage 2000. In the beginning, Dassault began the project jointly with Italy, Spain, West Germany, France and the United Kingdom; but because of France’s insistence on a lighter, carrier-capable fighter, the joint project split and developed into the Eurofighter Typhoon instead. Consequently, France is the sole developer of the Rafale.
The bird is optimized for a high level of agility through an aerodynamically unstable conception and through the combination of delta wings and front canards. Its agility ranges from withstanding 9g on a tight turn to flying at a measly speed of 28 km/h. The Rafale is to be the French Air Force’s main fighter from 2016 until past 2040; it has also penetrated Egypt and Qatar, and is likely to be successful in India as well.
Max. takeoff weight: 24,500 kilograms (54,000 lb)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,912 km/h, 1,032 knots)
Range: 3,700+ km (2,000+ nmi) with 3 drop tanks
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