Dassault Rafale Avionics



Dassault Rafale

Some pics of avionics interface from Global Punch video:










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Jan 21, 2007
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Sorry this is in French.

On 11 of June the french CEAM (military air experimentation centre) successfully tested a new kind of shooting.
A Rafale F2 shot a target behind him (and killed it) thanks to data transmitted from another Rafale with Link 16.
The missile used was a Mica EM (active radar seeker). This missile has thrust vector control and can be fitted indeferently with IIR or active radar seeker, and can be shot BVR (30 NM, maybe more, depending on launch conditions) or in close combat with a helmet cueing system.

The Rafale has also recently demonstrated that it has multitarget capability in air to ground role, with AASM. It can shoot at 6 different targets in one pass. One of the firing was nearly 90° of aircraft flight path.
The AASM is a kit with GPS guidance and rocket engine, fitted on Mk 82 bomb, giving it around 15 km range on low level firing and more than 50 km at high altitude.


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May 20, 2006
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Here a more recent public image of the Rafale's cockpit.

Some avionics details:





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May 20, 2006
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The Rafale features a fully integrated digital avionics suite with a modulare core architecture:

The modulare data processing unit (MDPU) form the heart of the Rafale's avionics. It's a modulare mission computer cmprising 18 processor modules. The MDPU is said to be 50 times faster than the Mirage 2000-5s mission computer and hosts the software for most of the aircraft's systems and avionics.

The avionics integration is assured by linked the various systems to each other via at least 4 digital MIL STD 1553B databusses and at least 1 optical STANAG 3910 datbus. Communication between the aircraft's onboard systems and its weapons is enabled by 2 digital MIL STD 1760 databusses.

The Rafale's recording systems include a Thales ESPAS digital solit state flight data recorder and a OTA 1320 CCD TV camera plus recorder for HuD video footage. The recording systems record maintainance data as well.

The integrated usuage and health monitoring system (IUHMS) features fully integrated and automated built in test equipment (BITE) along with sensors and digital recorders for airframe structure and engine components life monitoring.

The Rafale's navigation suite includes two Sagem RL-90 LINS platforms with embedded NSS-100 GPS receivers. The LINS allows flight plans with up to 600 waypoints being programmed and stored.
Addiotnal navigation equippment includes the NC-12E TACAN radio navigation system, the TLS-2020 multimode receiver which includes VOR and ILS/MLS functions, a digital map generator (DMG), a digital terrain reference navigation system (TRN) and the digital AHV 2930 radar altitmeter which is optimised for discretion and high performance at very low altitudes. The radar altimeter works at altitudes up to 3200 m.

The communication equipment comprises EAS TRA 2020 V-/UHF radios for civil communication and secured TRA 6032 V-/UHF radios for tactical military communication, compatible with HQ I & II and SATURN standards. The aircraft additionally features the MIDS-LVT/LINK16 bi-directional data link terminal for secured and jamming resistent near real time communication and data exchange.

The known Autopilot modes include:
- Flight path tracking
- Altitude hold modes
- AoA hold mode
- Auomatic terrain following
- Auto throttle

Self Defence:
The Rafale's SPECTRA (Système de Protection et d'Evitement des Conduites de Tir du Rafale – Self Protection Equipment Countering Threats of Rafale Aircraft) is one of the most advanced EW suites ever created for a combat aircraft. Being of a modulare design, SPECTRA is controlled by the GIC computer (Gestion de l'Interface et Compatibilité) comprising 3 processors.
The SPECTRA components include:
- 3 digital RWR antennas with each 120° azimuth coverage and a frequency coverage of 2 - 40 GHz mounted on the airlift intakes and at the rear of the SPECTRA fin tip pod. Functions/characteristics include:
- detection localisation, identification and priorisation of radar emitters at distances up to 200 km+
- Bearing accuracy below 1° in azimuth using interferometry
- Weapon cueing against ground based emitters

- Active ECM system with DRFM and AESA antennas in the canard roots and in the tail pod at the base of the fin, with offensive, defensive and stealthy jamming modes. Pencil thin jamming beams are directed towards threat emitters

- DDM (Détecteur infrarouge de Départ de Missiles) missile approach warning system based on dual-band midwave IR sensors which are located on each side of the SPECTRA fin tip pod, providing 360° atimuth coverage

- 3 DAL (Detecteur d’Alerte Laser) laser warning receivers with sensors on the fuselage sides and the rear of the SPECTRA fin tip pod

- 4 vertical firing flare/decoy dispensers on the top of the fuselage near the wing trailing edges and 2 chaff dispensers on the rear fuselage sides behind the wings

The RWR and ECM systems are integrated as the DBEM (Détection et Brouillage Electromagnétique) sub-system.

Thales RBE2 (Radar a Balayage Electronique – deux plans) is a modulare designed monopulse-doppler X-band multimode fire control radar system. It features 4 LRI including:
- ~60 cm PESA antenna
- 4 channel receiver
- transmitter
- programmable signal processor with at least 2 bln flow point operations/second

The RBE2 provides a +/- 60° azimuth and elevation coverage and includes the SB-25A MkXII compatible IFF interrogator/transponder with Mode-S capability. The IFF system uses phased array antennas.

Air to Air modes/functions include:
- Long range search
- Multi target track and engagement
- Air combat modes
- Look down/shoot down

In AA mode the RBE2 offers a tracking range beyond 100 km against a 3 sqm target with detection ranges up to 130-140 km. The radar can track and prioritise up to 40 targets simultaneously, engage up to 8 of them and provides McG for up to 4 missiles. It includes LPI characteristics and as capable of track here while scan there.

Air to Ground modes includes:
- DBS mapping
- SAR mapping
- SEA surface search and TWS
- TA
- AG ranging

Terrain following and avoidance modes can be combined to generate 3-D radar maps, which enable automatic terrain following flights via radar. AA tracking and AG mapping can be interleaved due the radars agile beam sweeping capabilities.

Electro optical systems:
The OSF (Optronique Secteur Frontal) comprises two modules on the aircraft's nose. The right one features an imaging dual-band IRST/FLIR sensor (3 - 6 and 8 - 12 microns) and the left one, aka CIU (Combat Identification Unit) features a 3-D CCD TV camera and a laser range finder.
The IRST provides a +/- 90° azimuth coverage and is capable to detect and track multiple aerial targets simultaneously. The sensor offers a max. detection range of 130 km in best conditions and can act as FLIR providing target images up to ~40 km and nav-images presented on the HuD.
The TV camera offers a max FOV of 60° and a range of ~50 km for single target track and identification. The LRF is effective up to ranges of 33 km.

Sensor fusion:
All the Rafale's onboard and offboard sensor data are fused, creating track files which contain correlated data from all the aircraft's sensors and which are presented on the large Head Level Display.


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May 8, 2017
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New, noteworthy avionics capabilities coming into Standard F4, especially the Standard F4-2, would include :

CONTACT SDR radar, basically a French equivalent of JTRS radios.
ESSOR framework based data link waveform, (heard it's UHF) would be installed as an OFP in CONTACT.
FO3D intra-flight data link system. (Heard there's a future capability upgrade planned for it to incorporate Ku band directional communication)
TRAGEDAC intra-flight data fusion, fusing data from SPECTRA, OSF and radar of each Rafale aircraft with the other.

Possible amplitude-phase difference directional detection capabilities for the RWR? Those Gripen Es have them so it wouldn't come as a surprise if the new Standard F4-2 Rafales are going to have them since the SPECTRA suite is also receiving upgrades.

I've heard GaN based MMIC on RBE2 TRM are planned for F5. That probably means only radar back-end and software upgrades for the F4-2.


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May 8, 2017
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My question now would be if the French have any plans of integrating RIFAN 2's waveform into CONTACT radio. Since RIFAN 2 is going to be installed on more than 60 aircraft, the OFP is already there. It's also UHF and would be installed on maritime helicopters, which means that the size of the radio ain't going to be as huge as CETPS systems for the CEC.

This especially makes sense considering the fact that Marine Nationale is developing VCN based on RIFAN 2. Just like how USN is demonstrating NIFC-CA FTS with CMN-4 based waveforms like Link-16 ET or TTNT, MN could possibly do the same by connecting the ships with carrier based Rafale M via RIFAN 2.


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May 23, 2020
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https://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1996ESASP.375..111N a paper on the Rafale’s mission computer. It seems like the F1 (which used a different interm off the self system) is totally different in terms of avionics. The computer seems to be what makes the Rafale the “Omnirole” we all know.

I’ve been interested in the RBE2 is basically alone as the only western PESA and one of the earliest phased arrays. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have gotten its full potential till the F2 and F3 standard which came about when AESA started becoming mainstream but still interesting.

The system is based on “Radant” technology developed by the company of the same name.

This function can be performed via the reading of a file, and therefore without electromagnetic emission, which promotes the discretion of the aircraft. 2 secure maps of about 300,000 km2 then allow low-altitude navigation by cutting the terrain for 10 km forward at just 300 ft ground (or even 100ft).
To this, the radar can associate a 3D mapping to circulate outside the stored file, if necessary.
Depending on the desired level of discretion, the pilot can choose 3 flight options: flexible, medium or hard. The "hard" level makes it possible to reach speeds well above the Mirage 2000N/D, as well as higher load factors...
9 navigation corridors are managed in field tracking mode.
With the arrival of the RBE2 AESA, the PESA antenna is not forgotten, since a modernization of the SdT capacity is underway and will aim to increase "low flight at very high speeds" capacity.
SAR image from RBE2 AESA
  • DBS mode: Doppler Beam Sharpenning.
This function allows you to approach a lens at low altitude, unmask very briefly to map it, and then work on the image thus memorized.
  • PDS mode: Plan of symmetry.
Consists of a vertical search in the aircraft axis in order to pursue a hostile u that would try to escape by maneuvering aggressively.
  • IDF mode: identification.
special guiding law used to observe, identify and possibly force an opponent to land.
  • Memory mode.
Intended to compensate for the "gaps" of the Doppler effect when an aircraft positions itself perpendicular to its interceptor. The system then develops a trajectory forecast based on the last known elements.

Sources: Air Fan June 2001 and June 2005 - June 2007

The prototype was first flight tested in 1992 and fitted to a prototype Rafale (B02) in 1993. The first production version was delivered in 1997 and installed on a Dassault Mystere 20 and Mirage 2000 before production Rafales. F2 standard added air to ground and limited terrain following/mapping, all features added for F3. Said to combine best features of RDM, RDY, RDI, Antilope radars with comparable quality to RDY (antidotally the RDY has a slight range advantage) as well as adding interleaving of different modes.

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