The Rafale is a French twin-engine delta multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Variants
3 Characteristics (Rafale D prototype?)
4 Characteristics (Rafale F2)


In the 1980s, France and other European countries were looking to replace their existing fighter aircraft. There were discussions on building an aircraft jointly, however because of differences between France and the others countries, they went their saparate ways, France building the Rafale, and the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain collaborating on the Eurofighter.

There is an active debate over the relative capabilities of the two aircraft, which will not likely be resolved until they both see combat service; see Comparison of 2000s fighter aircraft for notes on this.

France had a requirement to replace existing fighters for Armée de l'Air (air force) and a more urgent requiement to replace the aging F-8 Crusader used by the Aéronavale (naval aviation).

The Rafale A technology demonstrator first flew on July 4, 1986.


Rafale A was a technology demonstrator that first flew in 1986

Rafale D (D for discret or stealthy) was a prototype for the Armée de l'Air B and C variants

Rafale B is the 2-seater version for the Armée de l'Air; to enter service in 2004

Rafale C is the single-seat version for the Armée de l'Air; to enter service in 2004

Rafale M is the carrier-borne version for the Aéronavale, which entered service in 2001.

Rafale N is a 2-seater naval version, to enter service in 2008

(There are also F designations, F1, F2 and F3 (?))

Characteristics (Rafale D prototype?)

  • Wingspan: 10.72 m
  • Length: 14.98 m
  • Height: 5.10 m
  • Wings surface: 44 mē
  • Weight unladen: 8.6 tons
  • Fuel weight: 7 tons
  • Weight at takeoff: 20.3 tons
  • Motorization: Snecma M88, postcombustion thrust: 7 500 kgp.
  • Cruising speed: Mach 2
  • Max distance: 1800 Km
  • Takeoff distance: 400 m
  • Ascentional speed: 325 m/s
  • First flight: May, 19th 1991

Characteristics (Rafale F2)

Role: multi-role fighter, tactical and strategic (nuclear) bomber

See also: Comparison of 2000s fighter aircraft