French Air Force receives Rafale fighters for flight testing

Oct. 4, 2013 at 11:23 AM
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PARIS, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The French Air Force reports two new Rafale fighters have been delivered to its flight trial unit by the military's Directorate General of Armaments.

The aircraft, the first from production lot 4, were handed to the directorate last month by Dassault Aviation.

The Rafales are equipped with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, next-generation sensors, new missile launch detectors and frontal sector optronics for target identification and range-finding.

"The Rafale is the first European combat aircraft in service to benefit from AESA technology, which can significantly improve the detection range," the Air Force said. "It is the culmination of over 10 years of research and development efforts on active antennas."

The two aircraft were the two-seat variant of the Rafale.

The Rafale has a maximum speed of 1,032 knots at high altitude and a combat radius of 1,000 nautical miles. The French military has ordered 180 of the planes for the Air Force and Navy, with 122 so far delivered.

The fourth production lot calls for a total of 60 aircraft.

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