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D A S S A U L T A V I A T I O N - S N E C M A - T H A L E S N°9
When a single country makes your aircraft from nose to tail, you know exactly whatyou’re getting into. Rafale is not subject to multinational controls. It also offers unrestricted access to key weapon systems technologies, spare parts, and know-how.Rafale offers superior operational effectiveness and failsafe worldwide support, yet isn’tdelivered wrapped in red tape. Or with strings attached. Rafale. The OMNIROLE fighter.
D a s s a u l t A v i a t i o n • S n e c m a • T h a l e s
The first stage of the integrationtrials of the combat-provenAM39 Exocet antiship missilehas successfully been com-pleted by a production Rafalefrom the Dassault facility inIstres, the fighter carrying asingle AM39 on the centrelinepylon.To this date, more than 3300Exocet sea-skimming missileshave been sold to 34 cus -tomers. For increased com-monality, the Exocet is available
in three variants : surface-to-sur-face (MM38 and MM40), a i r - to - sur face (AM39), or submarine-to-surface (SM39). The 1,475 lb (670 kg) air-launched missile has a rangeof between 27 and 38 nauticalm i l e s ( 5 0 a n d 7 0 k m )depending on launch speedand altitude, and its 363 lb(165 kg) blast fragmentationwarhead is powerful enought o d i s ab l e a f r i ga t e o r adestroyer. Over the years, the
AM 39 Exocet has progres-sively been updated, with thes u c ce s s i v e imp ro vemen t programmes concentrating onradar seeker counter-counter-measure capabili t ies, thus l i m i t i n g v u l n e r a b i l i t y t o jamming and decoying whileincreasing lethality.Flight envelope expansion wascarried out by Rafale M1, witht h r e e s o r t i e s o n l y b e i n grequired to validate the normaloperating envelope: 600 knots/ Mach 0.9 maximum speed,5.5 g maximum g-load and4 m/s ver tical sink rate for carrier landings. The aircraftand missile combination willbe tested at sea onboard theCharles de Gaulle carrier inDecember 2005. During thesetrials, the vertical sink rate willbe cleared up to 5 m/s. Thef i r s t s epa ra t i on t e s t s a replanned for early 2006.
In this latest issue of Fox Three, the
magazine dedicated to the Rafale
Omnirole fighter, you will find features
on the latest development in the Rafale
programme, including the first trials
with the acclaimed Exocet missile,
the Rafale production, and the Rafale
Simulation Centre, plus updates on
the French Air Force Rafales and the
Link 16 datalink.
The “FOX THREE” Team
Copyright: F.Robineau-Dassault Aviation, French Air Force, SIRPA AIR, French Navy, SIRPA MARINE, Laurent Theillet (Sud Ouest), Illustration Link 16:Thales.
French Air ForceEvaluation Centre
FIRST EXOCET TRIALS
As part of the wider conver-sion effort, French Air Forceengineers have been busylearning how to maintain andrepair the Rafale. «We havealready trained about 100Rafale engineers, which isquite good considering thatwe have no spare air framejust for maintainers, stressesGeneral Rouzaud. Thanks to
our exchange programme withthe French Navy, we have beencapable of fielding the newtype without major problems.The French Air Force has set uphere the Rafale FormationCentre which handles all Rafaletraining courses, includingthose of the Air Force, theNavy, the French Flight TestCentre, and the industrial part-ners. We are also ready toaccommodate any potentialexport customers.»
The operational evaluation ofthe omniro le S tandard F2Rafa les i s expec ted to be thorough enough to allow the operational release of the typeat Saint-Dizier Air Base nextsummer. From 2008 onwards,the CEAM will switch its attentionto the improved Standard F3R a f a l e s w h i c h w i l l o f f e rexpanded capabilities in thef ie lds o f reconnaissance,nuclear deterrence and anti-shipstrikes
Link 16 and Mica IR missiles
«In the last few months, theRafale evaluat ion and theRafale aircrews conversiontraining have been carried outconcurrently, explains GeneralRouzaud, CEAM Commander.So far, thirteen crews - eachcomposed of one pilot andone weapon system operator- h a v e c o m p l e t e d t h e i r conversion process, nine ofthem belonging to EC 1/7‘Provence’, the first Rafalefighter squadron. The Rafaleis planned to enter operationalservice around Summer 2006and, for us, the timetable isextremely tight. That means
that our experts don’t havetime to conduct the two phasesone af ter the other as i t is usually the case. However, theRa f a l e i s a v e r y f l e x i b l e a i r c r a f t a nd we ha ve no dif f icul t ies mixing the two missions.»All French Air Force Rafalesare f i t ted wi th the L ink 16da ta l i nk sy s t em and new tac t ics are a l ready being developed to take advantageof this revolutionary system.«We regularly work with E-3AWACSs to test informationexchanges and to validatenew tac t ics , says ColonelRondel, the CEAM EvaluationsManager. With the Link 16,we now have a 360 degree
vision around the Rafale andwe can clearly see ‘hostile’fighters attacking us from thesides or from the rear. Theoperational evaluation of theinfrared-guided Mica IR missilehas also begun, and the firstresults are nothing short ofa s t ound i ng . The M i ca I Rmissile can be utilised either fora dogfight or for a long-rangeinterception. When used inconjunction with the Link 16,we can conduct silent inter-ceptions at extreme range,and we can even shoot Micasoff-boresight for self-defencewith an external target des-ignation, either from anotherRafale or from an AWACS.»
FRENCH AIR FORCE RAFALES: FAST FORWARDToday, Mont-de-Marsan Air Base is a hub of activity as the CEAM(Centre d’Expériences Aériennes Militaires), the French Air ForceEvaluation Centre, conducts a rigorous operational evaluation of theStandard F2 Rafale omnirole fighter. The CEAM is currently evaluatingthe performance of the Rafale and of its weapon system, including theRBE2 electronic scanning radar, the Spectra electronic warfare suite,the Front Sector Optronics, the data fusion system and all the variousmissiles and precision weapons.
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The first two Rafale bases, Saint-Dizier Air Base and LandivisiauNaval Air Station, will eachbe equipped with a completeRafale simulation facility, withfour cabins at Saint-Dizier andtwo at Landivisiau. If needed,the two facilities can be coupledin order to simulate complexmissions with up to six Rafales‘flown’ simultaneously. The two faci l i t ies can even be interconnected with off-site simulators in order to conductreal time cooperative training miss ion wi th other assets : aircrews at different locationsw i l l t hen be ab le t o t ra intogether in the same threatenvironment via a high-levelarchitecture protocol (HLA)which ensures that the simu-lators can talk to each otherand share data over the net-work.
The new full-mission Rafalesimulators will be extremelyhigh-fidelity devices using thereal Modular Data ProcessingUnit borrowed from the fighter.As such, they will accuratelyreplicate the performance ofthe Standard F2 Rafale omnirolefighter. Pilots will be able topractise demanding scenarios,including interceptions, dog-fights, precision attacks andeven carrier landings at night.To augment the value of thetraining, more than 200 friendlyo r hos t i l e v i r t ua l en t i t i e s(50 aircraft, 40 missiles, 20warships, 20 moving surfacetargets and 100 SAM sites)can be simulated during eachsession, allowing extremelyc o m p l e x m i s s i o n s t o b erehearsed. Other innovativecapabilities such as the voicecontrol of the virtual friendlyaircraft or the use of Night VisionGoggles will be implemented.
For increased flexibility, eachcockpit can be easily recon-figured from one version toanother in less than an hour, forexample from the Air Force tothe Naval variant, or from thesingle-seat to the two-seat version(four cabins can be utilised tosimulate two two-seaters).Additionally, the two RafaleSimulation Centres wil l beequipped wi th dedica teddebriefing facilities, allowingmissions to be replayed toinc rease exper ience andenhance training value.With their new, full-mission,reconfigurable, networkedsimulators, the French ArmedForces will soon get the toolt hey need to t ra in Ra fa le a i r c r e w s f o r t h e f u t u r e . The simulator centres will bede c l a r ed ope ra t i o na l a t Saint-Dizier in April 2007,and at Landivisiau in May2008.
VIRTUAL REALITYA new, state-of-the-art Rafale Simulation Centre is being put togetherby Dassault and Thales to train future Rafale aircrews. Taking advantageof their respective fields of excellence, the two companies havecreated a new concept of a fully integrated training simulator network.Dassault Aviation is in charge of the global system architecture, the visualsystem, the network environment, the high-fidelity flight model andthe building. Thales develops the cockpits, the simulator architectureand the weapon system modelisation (RBE2 electronic scanningradar, Front Sector Optronics, Spectra electronic warfare suite).Acting as co-contractors, Dassault Aviation, through its MilitaryCustomer Support Division, and Thales ensure the global managementof the programme.
Three Instructor Operating Stations (IOS) manage the four Cockpits
RAFALE PRODUCTION IS NOW IN FULL SWING
From the early stages of theR a f a l e p r o g r a m m e , t h e widespread use of digi ta l technology for the developmentconsiderably facilitated theelaboration of digital blueprintsthat were later transferred top r o d u c t i o n p l a n t s . F o r product ion engineers, theadven t o f t h e au t oma ted conception with the Catia 3Dtool meant that new productionmethods could be adopted.Huge inves tmen t s i n newtooling were made to reducecosts and increase flexibility,the staff undergoing specifictraining to adapt to the newtechniques. Traditionally, fittersa n d r i g g e r s w e r e k e yemployees in a Dassault plant.Now, everything fits perfectlyand complex r igs are no trequired anymore. This is areal cultural revolution. New,large, automated productionmachines have been introducedin the las t few years and,
for maximum flexibility andadaptability, they are utilisedto fabricate par ts for both the fighters and the Falconbus iness j e t s . Wi th thesem a c h i n e s , t h e l e v e l o f production accuracy has beenboosted to unprecedentedlevels. This means that partstaken from one aircraft will f i t a n o t h e r, w i t h o u t a n y adjustment or modification aswas common p rac t i ce on previous aircraft. «With theRafale, there is no adjustmentrequired, such is the qualityof the construction, explainsE t i e n n e P r é v o s t , R a f a l eP r o g r a m m e M a n a g e r .Everybody - from the designo f f i c e t o t h e p r o d u c t i o n engineers work ing in ourfactories - utilises a common,unique digital reference thatc on s i d e r ab l y f a c i l i t a t e s production. For the time being,all assembly instructions arestill printed on paper fact sheetsbut we will eventually switch tocomputer instructions with 3D
graphics.» Today, all majorDassault Aviation productionplants are already heavilyi n v o l v e d i n t h e R a f a l e programme. For instance, Seclin,in Northern France, specialisesin the fabricat ion of large primary parts. The Rafale’s f u se lage i s a s semb led a tArgenteuil, near Paris, fromcomponents delivered fromBiarritz (in the south-west ofF rance ) and f rom var ious partners’ facilities. The Biarritzp l an t a l s o spec i a l i s e s i n c o m p o s i t e m a t e r i a l s . A tMartignas, close to Bordeaux,the wings are assembled fromelements coming from Seclin.Rafale final assembly and accept-ance testing is carried out atBordeaux-Mérignac. It shouldb e n o t e d t h a t , f r o m t h e production people’s point ofview, only two Rafale versionsexist, the Air Force single-seaterbeing produced by mating up theforward fuselage of the Navalsingle-seater to the rear fuse-lage of the Air Force two-seater.
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With the Rafale fighter, Dassault Aviation has pioneered new designand production methods which are progressively being adopted bythe rest of the world, from famous automotive companies to mostmajor aircraft manufacturers. The sweeping changes introduced forthe Rafale programme have helped streamline manufacturing techniquesin order to reduce both fabrication costs and delays from order todelivery.
Link 16 is NATO’s most recent interoperable datalink standard and is defined in STANAG 5516. It is a real-timetactical link for the exchange of digital multi-service dataacross multi -user networks that can comprise several hundred platforms. L16 is a tri-service datalink (air, land, naval) and supportsa broad range of operational services, including tacticals i tuat ion awareness, command, control , e lectronic warfare, mission execution, anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare. L16 enables real-time exchange (in the order of seconds)at tactical level. In other words, the information it carriesis considered valid at the moment it is sent and the momentit is received via the communication network. The informationitself is fully standardised. Messages are structured intofields to avoid any possible misinterpretation. Exchange
procedures and protocols are also strictly defined in the NATOstandard. MIDS is the waveform that supports Link 16 and is itselfdefined in STANAG 4175. Located in L band, the MIDS wave-form is highly protected (TRANSEC and COMSEC) againstjamming and intrusion, and enables basic bit rates up toaround 100 kilobits per second. Until recently, the relatively big and heavy MIDS terminalscould only be integrated with large platforms: special-missionaircraft, surface ships, ground centres, etc. However, thela tes t genera t ion o f the te rmina l , ca l led MIDS- LVT (low-volume terminal) is smaller and lighter, so MIDS/L16capabili t ies can be implemented on smaller aircraft,including combat aircraft and helicopters. These new terminals are now in production. On the Rafale, the MIDS-LVT is fully integrated with weapon
MIDS/LINK 16 ON THE RAFALEThe Rafale new-generation multi-mission combat aircraft now has MIDS/Link 16capability to ensure full interoperability with the major NATO and allied platforms for joint and/or allied operations.
sys tems v ia the a i rc ra f t ’s da tabus (1553 and BHV h igh - speed bus ) . The L16 management func t ion i s performed by the aircraft’s mission computer, and thehuman-machine interfaces are incorporated with the existingcockpit displays. The Rafale will use Link 16 for air-to-air and air-to-ground/surface missions for all mission phases, from alert to landing,and for two main classes of services: external cooperation(with other participants in the engagement) and internal cooperation (within the aircraft’s own patrol). For external cooperation, the Rafale will automaticallyreceive tactical situation information, i.e. the representationof its operational environment with the positions of otherplayers (friendlies, hostiles, neutrals, etc.) in the theatreof operations. It will also have a direct connection with itscontrol centre (ground, surface or air) for the exchange of
mission-specific information such as flight plans, navigationand refuelling waypoints, guidance to target, engagementorders, acknowledgements and reports. For internal cooperation, MIDS/L16 will be used to exchangedata on the relative positions of aircraft within the patrol,their statuses, detection data (e.g. one aircraft using itsradar to provide tracks for other aircraft), coordinationdata and target distribution data.
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MIDS = Multifonctional Information Distribution SystemNCW = Network Centric Warfare
RAFALE : “AN EXTREMELY STRONG” AIRFRAME
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Link 16 capability gives the Rafale multiple operational advantages:
• First, it enables the aircraft and its crew to receive real-time information automatically:
o broad spectrum of data on the operational environment, mission, etc. o data is extremely reliable and accurate (e.g. on targets — absolute or relative
position, route, speed, altitude, etc.) o no crew saturation (data is stored, then displayed on request or automatically,
according to the phase of the mission)o updates (instant or periodic).
• Second, it gives the aircraft full interoperability:
o with French forces:
- as part of the SCCOA* air command and control system, with its fixed anddeployable components, SDCA** airborne detection and command system(equivalent of AWACS) and (in the near future) tanker aircraft, Mirage 2000combat aircraft and SAR helicopters operated by the French Air Force
- the French Navy’s air arm, with the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, anti-air frigates, carrier-based airborne early warning aircraft (FrenchHawkeyes) and (in the near future) multi-mission frigates
- the Martha system (ground-based air and area defence) and helicopters operated by the French Army
o with NATO forces, particularly the Air Command & Control System (ACCS) with itsfixed and deployable components, airborne early warning (AEW) assets, otherallied command systems (including combat aircraft) and (in the near future) theAlliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system.
The Rafale is one of the first combat aircraft to be equipped with an advanced real-time and fully interoperable tactical datalink. This new capability will enhance the aircraft’s operational effectiveness as part of broader force structures and will enable it to play a critical role in future network-centric warfare operations.
* SCCOA: Système de Commandement et de Contrôle des Opérations Aériennes** SDCA: Système de Détection et de Commandement Aéroporté
No fewer than 3,000 parametersrecorded
The Rafale s ta t ic/fat igue air f rame was fu l ly representative of the real Naval version of the aircraft in terms of structural resistance. The testinstallation comprised 110 computer-controlledactuators and more than 3,000 parameters wererecorded simultaneously by 3,000 strain gauges and50 displacement sensors. The comprehensive testprogramme ini t ial ly con-centrated on fatigue trialsand two aircraft lives - equiv-alent to 2 x 5,000 f lyinghours and 2 x 3,500 flights - were ‘flown’ withoutsustaining major damage. The engineers’ atten-tion then switched to the static trials during whichthe Rafale was tested up to 185 percent of designlimit load before the airframe broke.Additionally, the static and fatigue strength of somecrucial components was tested separately: windshield,canopy, wing attachments, fuselage main fittings,landing gear, canard foreplanes, engine mounts...Additional Finite Elements Computations havebeeen performed wheneverneeded to demonstrate thestrength of components thathave not been tested.«Having completed all thissubstantiation process, weare fully confident that the air frame will proveproblem-free for well over the planned service life,stresses Philippe Delaage, an aircraft engineer ofthe Rafale Management Team. Moreover, in-serviceaircraft are entirely monitored in real-time by aHealth and Usage Monitoring System integratedinto the miss ion computer, thus al lowing the operator to precisely follow up the actual use ofeach aircraft through fatigue indexes.»French MoD initial design specifications for theRafale are 5,000 flying hours/3,000 landings witha severe usage spectrum, but studies have shownthat the expected economical life (that is without anymajor structure component replacement) is 7,000hours and 5,300 landings.
Between 1992 and 1999, a test airframe was used to validate the Rafale’s designstructural service life. The fatigue and static tests were based on a demanding flightspectrum representing expected flight usage, with data drawn from Mirage 2000 service experience.