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Subject: Rafale Proves Itself
SYSOP    8/7/2011 7:59:23 AM
 
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Reactive       9/2/2011 5:18:07 PM
The real problem as I see it is that Rafale-fans across the entire internet have a real problem remaining reasonable, they insist that their nation's plane (and of course they are generally/always french) is dominant in every role, every altitude, and on every mission type - I remember when the argument was whether the rafale was on a par with the F-22 in a BVR role, we've since heard all sorts of wonderful claims, that Rafale has an active cancellation suite, that it's RCS/sig management should classify the plane as VLO, that it was capable of doing passive ranging at 100km using its digicam..
 
And all sorts of other ridiculous boasts that encourage posters, myself included to interject - you can simply apply ocamm's razor to the article and say that if it was even CLOSE to being as capable at AA/STRIKE as is claimed it would have been in demand the world over - it would be the case of Dassault ramping up production to match the huge influx of foreign orders.
 
But that hasn't happened, instead potential customers have complained of poor engine performance at altitude, poor radar performance, and have generally had to be cajoled using chicanery (bribes) into considering the plane (Brazil being a good example that the new administration is rapidly reversing).
 
So instead of having interesting discussions about how the planes might be operated, what sort of support they will utilise and how they are deployed and operated it gets bogged down into a pointless pissing match. The Rafale is a good, capable and modern strike aircraft with good low-mid altitude aero performance - but it is not a high altitude air-superiority airframe, it was never designed to be this and it never will be this, it has a fundamental limitation with its antennae - it is undoubtably, unquestionably a better multi-role aircraft than the EF-typhoon is, the EF-typhoon was designed to fight a cold-war foe that now doesn't exist in quite the same form as before, it is likely to have a limited lifespan as a top-of-the-line asset when LO/VLO becomes the defacto standard for first rate airforces - that is true of the Rafale also - they are both a generation behind the curve and that has to be acknowledged.
 
I don't care about exercises where Rafale was given a simmed 170km BVR missile -  I don't care because it is not relevant or pertinent to what we DO know and can deduce using our own brains, the EF is an optimised AA platform, and the Rafale is an Multirole/strike platform, they have respective levels performance that match those optimisations- neither is particularly fascinating when compared to the next-gen assets currently in development.
 
All of which could have prevented tens of thousands, perhaps more (throughout the internet) of pointless Rafale threads where it is asserted that the plane is dominant across every mission role, it seems to be an issue of national pride before anything else and I can only deduce that there is some sort of pathological inferiority complex lurking in the minds of some of our French posters - but after the umpteenth time saying the same thing, citing what IS publicly availble, what can be inferred from procurement contests, we still come back to the same fandom that permeates every forum, for a plane that has yet to make a single foreign sale it certainly has a world-class level of forum coverage.
 
R
 
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Reactive       9/2/2011 5:31:56 PM
And for what it's worth, I think it is also quite FAIR to say that the EF program has FAILED spectacularly on several levels to deliver an affordable level of performance in the roles that it is likely to be useful in - there is no question that the French have produced an airframe that is more suitable to the needs of those Western European countries with very little likelihood of being drawn into large scale air-wars in the near future - that is a legacy of just how long the EF program has taken to emerge from its inception where an air-war with Soviet Russia was still a grim likelihood - it is also another reason to note that I am damn glad Britain is committed to the F-35 program, it has a far longer useful lifespan as a highly-survivable asset ahead of it and will perform many of the functions that at least half of the Typhoon's manufactured will be forever incapable of.
 
But from the point of view of a vendor who does face a foe using the best 4th gen assets that Russia could manufacture or even those from earlier US-sales, it still might be more attractive to have a formidable air-dominance platform than one that is more capable in strike - that is what the Indians are deciding right now, how to optimise their fleet for the emerging threats they face, I wouldn't be surprised if it goes either way but away from the world of the internet forums the EF's reputation as an air-to-air performer is unquestionable - for my money it looks to be the favourite.
 
R
 
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Eliendhal       9/2/2011 5:44:52 PM
To MK ,
I 've been thinking about the question you asked : 
"What else can they do to increase the coverage spare cheek arrays?"
 
Well , this is not an easy question . First and if I was a Thalès/Dassault engineer , I would check what is the available power I can use to run the AESA cheek arrays . If I can get , let 's say 40% of the power needed to run the Aesa RBE2 , I would begins to think : I have 3.800w to play with and I have to divide this by 2 to run both cheek arrays . What can I do with this ?
 
1st question : can the Rafale provide such extra output power ? To be honest , I do not know .
2rd question : if I have this extra output power , do I have enough computing power to run 3 Aesa arrays ?
It seems to me that as it stands , the Rafale comes a bit short . Can the french do something about it , that I have no doubt . They did it before with the jump from M2000-5 to M2000-9 . They changed the entire electrical system to accomodate the new radar , the new ECMs and the new CPU unit .
Can it be done on the Rafale ? Most probably or they wouldn 't talk about .
So , let 's say that I have 2 small cheek Aesa arrays to play with , each with 1.900w available . Then , how much room I have ahead of the pit to fit the systems ?
Again , let 's say that I have enough room to fit 2 small systems with 200 fixed GaN modules each , each moduls rated at 15w . This way , I have a good safety margin and some potential upgrade .  A bit of math is telling me that the probable range would be around 60-65km against a 5 meter square object , maybe a bit more depending on the technology at hand and software writing .
 
So MK wrt your question , if the french wants to find enough electrical power , enough room , they have to get rid of the IRST part of the OSF and keep the long range camera and the LRF while boosting the electrical frame . Also , they probably have to change the CPU unit . The rest seems pretty simple , if I may say . 
 
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Eliendhal       9/2/2011 6:15:29 PM
Reactive : +1
 
Now and thanks to your last 2 posts , I know a lot more about who I am talking to and I am pleased to see that we agree on many things . Just few points where we may have a different view :
 
"But from the point of view of a vendor who does face a foe using the best 4th gen assets that Russia could manufacture or even those from earlier US-sales, it still might be more attractive to have a formidable air-dominance platform than one that is more capable in strike"
 
I dare to say that the combo Rafale-Meteor is deadly enough to keep at bay PAF and PLAAF for the foreable futur (2025) . Typhoon would probably be better in that task but it might not be what the Indians are asking for .
It is not because the Eurofighter shines as an interceptor that the Rafale should be underestimated as an interceptor .
Personaly , I rate the Rafale very highly in every mission I can think of and I see it as the best multirole fighter today .
That being said , it is far to be perfect , nothing is . The term "Jack of all trade" has been synonymous of "master of none" for a long time but I have to say , it fits rather well the french fighter in the 4th generation league .   
 
 
 
 
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Eliendhal       9/2/2011 10:02:05 PM
This website is really using a wonderfull software , I 've just lost an hour of typing .
Velocityvector warned me and now I know why .
Anyway ...
The thread name said "Rafale proves itself" .
On the operational level , it did indeed . The french used it for SEAD , deep strike interdiction (SCALP) , Recon with the new pod , ELINT , CAS , CAP .  I don 't know about buddy-buddy refueling , they more likely used the Tankers and the SEMs .
 
When I talk about "jack of all trade" , I am refering to things like this  : 
 
"Rafale’s capabilities are changing the way the French air force operates. Previously, distinct pilot “communities” developed around each of the main missions flown – air defense, ground attack, strike, etc. – and lived more or less independently of each other. With the Rafale, however, this phenomenon is fading away since any unit, any aircraft and any pilot fly air-defense, strike or ground attack missions, as required. Specialization will disappear, several officers said, to be replaced by fewer but far more flexible aircraft and pilots.
“The idea that a single aircraft can be re-tasked in flight from reconnaissance to strike to interception during the same sortie is truly revolutionary, and we’re just now beginning to understand all that this implies,” says one officer."
 
This is what multirole means , or omnirole as the french like to say . They have a point . In fact , it is the first time that an aircraft is used this way . In the balkans , NATO used the usual "specialists" , each with its own task . Eagles as watchers , some Vipers as recon and swing role (or CAP) , other Vipers for CAS , M2000s for Recon or for Interdiction (or CAP) , SHs for a bit of everything depending on the load , etc ... Other assets were there of course , AWACs , spy planes , Sats , etc . 
Rafale has clearly demonstrated what it can do bare on the air to air level because of a lack of opposition .
I am not talking about the opposition for obvious reasons , let 's just say that it was poor but it doesn 't change the fact that the fighter did a good job , both from land or from a carrier .
Now , what interest me is the possible impact on the international market .
Wrt India , the Libian campaign proved what the Indians knew already but it might be appreciated anyway . The UAE have been asking to Dassault if the talk could be back on rail . It seems that the UAE have been impressed since they are not asking anymore for 9t engines and for a Spectra update .
The Swiss (hehe) are scratching their heads ...
Qatar is now REALLY thinking about buying 60 Rafales . Brazil , well who knows .
Maybe the Rafale is going to be sold and maybe in big numbers . Nothing is done yet but if it happens , some people will have a nervous breakdown , that I am sure of (Mr Jon Lake , God help him) . 
 
 
 
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MK    @Eliendhal   9/3/2011 12:32:16 PM
Wrt the cheek arrays I don't think that computing power will be a problem, I in fact believe that the current MDPU is already capable enough, but as the cheek arrays are likely to come with the major MLU only 'm certain there will be newer computers available anyway. The electrical power supply will be more critical though I think that this issue will be dealt with as part of the MLU, otherwise the aircraft wouldn't be future proof. A more critical concern is where these arrays would fit and big they could be. If they are to small their use will be limited and I wonder whether it's worth the expense.
 
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Das Kardinal       9/4/2011 8:36:51 AM
Wrt the cheek arrays : I've read somewhere that the flat panel arrays of the AEGIS system don't operate at the same time but in very rapid succession (scanning one section of the sky after another).
I don't see why this couldn't work on a plane, since AESAs are so agile.
http://www.strategypage.com/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Load.ashx?type=style&file=SyntaxHighlighter.css);" target="_blank">link
 
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Eliendhal       9/4/2011 6:39:23 PM
Das Kardinal wrote : 
"I've read somewhere that the flat panel arrays of the AEGIS system don't operate at the same time but in very rapid succession (scanning one section of the sky after another).
I don't see why this couldn't work on a plane, since AESAs are so agile."
 
Well , of course it does make sense if you think about it , you only have to divert the power from one panel to another and it is very quickly done nowadays . So Das Kardinal , you are actualy thinking about using the total Aesa RBE2 output power to run the 3 Aesa arrays ... What a brilliant idea !  I am ashamed I did not think about it .
So , we have 9.600w to play with , maybe a bit more with the next upgrade . Let 's say that the french do an average job and only give a 10% increase  (very unlikely) . I have now 10.560w , first the main radar will get a nice little boost and my cheek arrays could see their range increased by 40% if I can put my hands on GaN TR modules rated at 20w .   Can I ?
UMS can help , they have prototypes rated at 40w . They also have 20w GaAs ready if I want to use the old  (!) technology .
The cheek arrays would have something like a 100km range versus a fighter size target which is good but I think about the AtoG job . SAR would be taken a step further as well as awareness . Ground mapping would be enhanced as well as target detection and discrimination on the flanks , even moving ones . " AASM on the way !"
All of this sounds promising , as long as the french can deliver ...
 
 
 
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gf0012-aust       9/5/2011 4:12:19 AM

Well , of course it does make sense if you think about it , you only have to divert the power from one panel to another and it is very quickly done nowadays . So Das Kardinal , you are actualy thinking about using the total Aesa RBE2 output power to run the 3 Aesa arrays ... What a brilliant idea !  I am ashamed I did not think about it .


the array is distributed, the power is NOT
 
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Das Kardinal       9/5/2011 4:42:55 AM
Could the power be switched as rapidly ? I don't know, would the components support it ? Stuff generally doesn't like to be turned on and off rapidly, but I'm thinking about light bulbs... If someone has the relevant knowledge... http://www.strategypage.com/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Load.ashx?type=style&file=SyntaxHighlighter.css);" target="_blank">link
 
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