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20 Anecdotes about the Dassault Rafale!

Updated: Mar 1

Since 2021, I've been posting on the Instagram account @alachassebordel between 3 and 7 times a week... Each post tells a story, an anecdote, or an aeronautical innovation. Here are 20 posts gathered to (re)share knowledge about our Dassault Rafale.

In the aeronautical realm, the Dassault Rafale stands as a true technological feat, combining power, agility, and ingenious innovations. Beyond its elegant silhouette and imposing presence in the skies, this French fighter jet holds a multitude of fascinating anecdotes. From the staggering afterburner to stealthy pursuits aided by a thin layer of gold, the Rafale embodies aeronautical excellence. In this article, we'll delve into the captivating details that define this exceptional fighter, from the cockpit to the landing strip. Hold on tight, as the world of Rafale never ceases to amaze!

Dassault Rafale, airshow

1. Efficient yet Voracious Afterburner

The afterburner (PC) involves injecting kerosene into an already burning jet engine nozzle, instantly igniting the fuel and significantly boosting the Rafale's thrust—doubling it. However, this method nearly triples fuel consumption to a rate of 425 L per minute! With internal and external tanks, at full afterburner, the Rafale can last for 26 minutes (under optimal and hypothetical conditions, of course).

2. Rafale as a Refueler

The Dassault Rafale is one of the few fighters capable of adopting a refueling configuration, known as the "buddy-buddy" system. This allows one Rafale to refuel another mid-flight! The Rafale M version is equipped with a refueling pod, turning it into a "nanny" for a buddy-buddy setup. The NARANG pod, produced by SAFRAN, measures 3 meters and facilitates a transfer of 750-1000 L per minute, especially in the F3-R standard.

3. Active Stealth vs. Passive Stealth

Unlike the F-35 with its passive stealth features, the Rafale employs active stealth technologies, notably through the SPECTRA system. An original technique enhancing its stealth involves covering the canopy with a thin layer of gold, absorbing radar waves.

Dassault Rafale, airshow

4. Dual Cloud Monsters

Equipped with 2 afterburning double-body, double-flow turbofan engines, each SNECMA M88-2 weighs 900 kg and consumes air at a rate of 54,000 L/s at full power. The combined air flow from both engines is 130 kg/s, roughly translating to about 108 m³ of air per second!

5. True Rocket

With a ceiling of approximately 15,000 m and an ascent rate of around 18,000 m/min, theoretically, the Rafale can go from ground to ceiling in less than a minute!

6. France and the F/A-18

During the Rafale project's inception, the French Navy, fearing delays, initially favored the F/A-18. However, with the project ready on time, the Navy confidently chose the Rafale, equipping its fleet from 2002 onwards.

7. Arresting Hook Surprise

Contrary to common belief that only the Rafale M has an arresting hook, both Rafale B and C (as well as the F-16) carry a smaller version. Used only in emergencies like tire blowouts, brake failures, or failed takeoffs, it is thinner and cannot be retracted once deployed, replacing the traditional heavier braking parachute.

Dassault Rafale, airshow

8. Natural Instability

Naturally unstable in pitch at subsonic speeds, the Rafale's high maneuverability transfers to its roll, reaching nearly 270 degrees per second in a light configuration and 150 degrees per second in a (very) heavy setup.

9. Modern Phoenix

With a maximum internal fuel capacity of 4,700 kg, the Rafale can carry 1.5 times its empty weight, totaling 9,500 kg of armament/pods. The Rafale B or C can take off with a maximum load of 24.5 tonnes (21.5t for catapulting the Rafale M).

10. Essential Canards

Unlike typical delta wings, the Rafale's canards contribute to a lower landing speed. While the Mirage series lands at about 290 km/h, the Rafale approaches at approximately 210 km/h, landing in 450 meters without a parachute, thanks to powerful carbon brakes.

11. Ejectable Jewel of a Seat

Equipped with a Martin-Baker Mk-16F ejection seat (the "F" for "France," also used on the F-35), it is a zero/zero seat—triggerable at a standstill at zero altitude. This intricate rescue technology comprises 3,500 pieces, weighing 90 kg, with a 2-second ejection duration, reaching forces of 14-22 G.

Dassault Rafale, airshow fighterjet

12. Sturdy Front Landing Gear

A significant difference between Rafale C and Rafale M lies in the strengthened front landing gear. Increasing from 50 to 200 kg for the Rafale M, it can withstand a vertical speed of 6.5 m/s, roughly 23 km/h.

13. Obus Avoidance Maneuver

After firing a cannon, especially in Close Air Support (CAS), the Rafale executes an evasive turn to regain altitude, typically to the left. This counters the clockwise rotation of Nexter DEFA cannon rounds, avoiding potential ricochets to the right.

14. Double Air Intakes for Added Safety

Having two air intakes, unlike the F-16 or Typhoon's single intake, allows the Rafale to fly on one engine if needed. Also, with a single underbelly intake, the front landing gear is vulnerable. Air intakes, being excellent radar reflectors, must be concealed for stealth.

15. Pressure-Controlled Flight Commands!

The Rafale's flight commands are swift and precise. The hydraulic system supplying the flight commands operates at over 345 bars!

Dassault Rafale, airshow fighterjet

16. Resistance to G-Forces

The Rafale's previously mentioned ejection seat has a 29-degree backward inclination. This design not only provides good visibility and easy access to controls for smaller pilots but also minimizes the vertical distance between the brain and the heart, aiding resistance to high G-forces.

17. Controlled Throttle Stick

The Rafale features a CTP (Contrôle Traînée Poussée) auto-throttle system. This system controls control surface drag and engine thrust to maintain precise pitch and angle of attack. Above 20,000ft, the auto-throttle displays speed in Mach, while below, it shows in knots.

18. Extraordinary Tires for the Rafale

Dassault Aviation's Rafale is equipped with Michelin Air X tires. These 15-inch tires, comparable in size to those of a small car, can withstand takeoff speeds of up to 390 km/h and resist up to 40 tonnes during carrier landings. Each tire must bear 10.5 tonnes and can be inflated up to 27 bars!

19. Refueling the Refueler Rafale?

If a Rafale M pilot fails three landing attempts, they must refuel from the previously mentioned "nanny" Rafale. The fuel quantity delivered corresponds to three landing attempts or the distance to the nearest diversion airfield on the ground. Unlike other pilots, if the "nanny" fails three attempts, no one can refuel it! Hence, buddy-buddy pilots are typically the most experienced.

20. CATIA, the Software Behind Rafale's Birth

The Rafale relied on numerous studies, Mirage 2000 lessons, but primarily on the CATIA software! What is it? CATIA stands for "Conception Assistée Tridimensionnelle Interactive Appliquée," a computer-aided design software created by Dassault Aviation. At the origin of the Rafale as we know it, CATIA was used in the creation of the USS Virginia, at Boeing, Airbus, Nokia, and even Porsche!

I will continue creating these compilations, covering Rafale and many other subjects!

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Photo credit:

BOCHU Gaïtan - À la chasse bordel !

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