Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Smashing New Upgrades For Dassault Rafale

French company Dassault is ready with its F3-04T standard for its fighter aircraft Rafale. these upgrades are supposed to be delivered both for home-user as well as export customers by 2013.

Some of the upgrades which will be included are

AESA Radar
One of the stumbling block for Rafale was the AESA radar. This problem is being over come with Thales RBE2 AESA radar. Testing of these radar with the aircraft is already on and is supposed to be delivered by 2013. Some salient points of this radar are
All radar functions are performed in the same flight:

Air Defence
  • Very long detection and track ranges
  • Fully automatic, sorting and ranking of tracked targets
  • Fully target tracks independent of search volume.
Deep low-level penetration
  • Automatic terrain following and avoidance
Strike mission
  • En Route update of target area situation
  • High resolution imagery modes (SAR) - Designations
Sea skimming attacks
  • Detection and multi-tracking
  1. Active electronic scanning makes it possible to switch radar modes quickly, thereby enabling operational functions to run simultaneously.
  2. AESA has incorporated expertise coming from the current RBE2 Rafale radar, in the tradition of electronic scanning array radar.
  3. The RBE2 has been in production since 1997 and was combat proven in multinational operations in 2001.
  4. It can be fitted on large or medium fighter aircraft.

Technical Features
Antenna block
  • Active electronic scanning
  • Very low side and scattered lobes in azimuth and elevation
  • Very high reliability (T/R modules)

Active transmit / Receiver modules and exciter / Receiver
  • Multipole Waveforms
  • Coherent X band frequency generation
  • Excellent spectral purity
  • Wide bandwidth
  • Full monopulse
  • MMIC/GaAs technologies
Programmable signal processor and data processor
  • Target detection and ECCM processing
  • Fully programmable
  • Anti-obsolescence solutions: open architecture - COTS components
  • Tracking computation
  • High resolution map generation

courtesy MBDA
DDM-NG Missile warning system for Rafale
Operational Requirement
DDM-NG has been designed to provide the Rafale fighter self-protection system (Spectra) with an advanced Missile Warning System covering most of the sphere around the aircraft.

The Solution
  • DDM-NG is a passive, imaging infrared Missile Warning System using the latest advances in sensor technology and processing algorithms.
  • DDM-NG takes advantage of the extensive and unique experience acquired on current DDM systems in service on French Air Force and Navy Mirage 2000 and Rafale aircraft.
  • The DDM-NG system’s long detection range, large field of view and advanced software provides the highest level of performance.

  • State-of-the-art infrared staring array technology Long detection range
  • Advanced algorithms ensure very low false alarm rate
  • Very large field of view
  • High angular accuracy compliant with DIRCM needs
  • Form, fit, function replacement for DDM on Rafale
Main Features And Advantages
  • Covert passive system
  • Dual colour imaging
  • Early detection
  • Very large field of view
  • High angular precision
  • Automatic decoy activation

courtesy Thales
Damocles XF, Thales’s future multifunction targeting pod
Thales is developing a new version of its multifunction targeting pod, Damocles XF, to provide air and naval air forces with a solution boasting unparalleled performance. This new version is expected to be up and running in 2012 and will incorporate, in particular, new communication means and an enhanced identification system, thereby improving its effectiveness irrespective of the environment.Basically the French Air Force wants a daytime camera to give crisper pictures like a TV channel which can be downloaded to the ground troops too

Consequently, Damocles XF's development meets the most specific requirements as concerns the main phases of air operation engagements.Regarding long-range, Damocles XF will benefit from Damocles's outstanding performance, which already guarantees that laser guided arms can be used at the range's extreme limit, thereby providing maximum security for the platform and the team.

For short-range engagements in complex environments, including urban areas, the effectiveness is based not only on the guidance precision, but also on positive day and night identification. To provide the pilot with the most advanced reconnaissance and identification capabilities, Damocles XF will therefore have high-resolution InfraRed (IR) imagery and a new day-light camera.

In joint operations with close air support, the new data transmission capability integrated in Damocles XF will facilitate data and video exchange with ground troops, will improve the chain of command's control and will increase the engagement's precision. The data liaison system will be completely interoperable with the systems used by forces engaged today in joint operations.

M88-2-E4 engine
Now here comes the most controversial of debates because the greatest drawback which Rafale has is its power generated by the engines. Which is much lower than Eurofighter Typhoon and smaller machines like F-16.

The current engine flown by French Air Force generates 7.5 tonnes of power. Because Rafale has two engines therefore it can generate upto 15 tonnes of power.This gives the aircraft the power to weight ratio of 1:1 when loaded with 50% fuel and 2.5 tonnes of weapon. Unfortunately when Rafale is used to the hilt that is the maximum take-off weight of 25 tonnes, this power to weigh ratio degrades considerably which can prove an Achilles heel for it.

French Air Force pilots are quite satisfied with the performance even in hot weather of UAE and Afghanistan. Currently French Pilots cruise at a speed of 0.9 Mach on a seven hour mission with a full ordinance load when flying to Libya for bombing missions.

UAE pilots are struggling with the lower power of Rafale engine because they are habituated in flying F-16 which are much smaller as mentioned earlier with a very big engine and Rafle is unable to match that design or the power output.Problem does not stop there either for UAE. UAE Air Force would like to fly with 3 Shaheen cruise missiles each of them weigh around 1,300kg, with that they would like to carry three 2,000 liter fuel tanks. Most Pilot concede that when the temperature reaches 50 degrees it will be much easy to fly specially take-off with a thrust of 19 tonnes rather than 15 tonnes carrying such a heavy arsenal.

The new-generation M88-2 integrates the latest technologies, including low-emissions combustor, single-crystal turbine blades and powder metallurgy disks, as well as innovations to reduce electromagnetic and infrared signatures. It is a highly compact engine, developing 50 to 75 kN of thrust with afterburner (11,250 to 17,000 lb), giving it a very high thrust-to-weight ratio. The M88-2 also shows exceptionally carefree handling, especially during acceleration.

Snecma is developing an improved version of the M88 called the M88-4E, formerly known as the "TCO Pack", to power Rafale multirole fighters. It will include upgrades to the high-pressure compressor and turbine, derived from technologies tested during the ECO development program. The aim is to extend the service life and time between inspections for several parts of the engine. The development of the M88-4E is proceeding very satisfactorily. Qualification and delivery of the first production-standard M88-4E are now slated for the end of 2011.

Work on an improved M-88-2E4 engine is well advanced at Snecma, but the goal is not to increase power but to lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by extending service life and time between inspections. The -2E4 will also reduce fuel burn by 2 to 4%, Snecma says. Most probably these engines will be tested by November 2011

The improvements included in the M-88-2E4 engine will form the main part for the future 9-tonne engine. However, notes a Dassault Aviation executive, there’s a big stumbling block: “we need an order and a signature to launch the 9-tonne engine.” Unfortunately if this kind of 9 tonne engine is put into Rafale then the air went have to be increased by 1.5cm thus increasing the Radar Cross Section. Therefore Dassault has to either change the design or material used to reduce the RCS.

courtesy wikipedia
AASM or Hammer
The Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon) (AASM) is a French Precision-Guided Munition developed by Sagem Défense Sécurité. AASM comprises a frontal guidance kit and a rear-mounted range extension kit matched to a dumb bomb. The weapon is modular because it can integrate different types of guidance units and different types of bombs. The basic version features a 250-kilogram (550 lb) bomb plus hybrid inertial navigation system (INS) / Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance. Other variants add imaging infrared (IIR) or semi-active laser homing (SALH) to increase accuracy; there are also versions with 125-kilogram (280 lb) or 1,000-kilogram (2,200 lb) bomb bodies. It entered service in 2007 with the French Air Force and Naval Aviation.

On Thursday, April 21, French defense procurement agency DGA successfully performed a demonstration firing test of the AASM modular air-to-ground weapon against a land target moving at high speed.

The test was carried out at the DGA’s missile test range in Biscarosse by a production Rafale fighter deployed by the DGA’s flight-test center in Cazaux. The AASM was fired from an extreme off-axis angle (90°) at a range exceeding 15 kilometers.

The impact was at a very low angle, against a moving target represented by a laser spot generated by a ground illuminator mounted on a turret, to simulate a vehicle moving at a speed of 80 km/h.

Using its algorithms for detection and slaving of the trajectory to the laser spot, plus its excellent maneuverability, the AASM hit its target to within less than one meter.

This firing test demonstrated the AASM Laser’s ability to offer 1-meter accuracy against high-speed, agile land or maritime targets. Coupling this performance with its standoff firing capability, the AASM is unrivaled in the market for tactical air-to-ground weapons.

The inertial/GPS/laser-guided version of the AASM is fitted with a semi-active laser seeker, and features algorithms to track fixed or highly mobile targets during the terminal phase. It will enhance the operational flexibility already offered by the AASM family, including two versions that have been qualified for firing by the Rafale multirole fighter: inertial/GPS and inertial/GPS/infrared.

The laser terminal guidance version of the AASM will enter volume production for the French air force and navy starting at the end of 2012.

ROVER (Remotely-Operated Video Enhanced Receiver) real-time video system will be fitted in the new upgrade but none of the agencies are in any mood to divulge any details about this avionics

New capabilities that might be incorporated into the Rafale’s mid-life update in around 2025 could include operating unmanned aerial vehicles, thrust vectoring for improved maneuverability, and conformal radar antenna arrays located all around the airframe.

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