From the MIRAGE III to the MIRAGE 2000, the reputation of the delta-winged fighter spans the globe as the elusive
and lethal fighter which never quits in dogfight and fires the last shot.
As the scion of the MIRAGE family, the RAFALE can do even more with the most recent technology in flight control, propulsion, airframe materials and mission systems.
The RAFALE features a delta wing with close-coupled canards. In-house research in computational fluid dynamics has shown the specific benefits of close coupling between the wings and the canards: it ensures a wide range of centre of gravity positions for all flight conditions, as well as benign handling throughout the whole flight envelope.
The close-coupled canards / delta wing configuration is key to the combat performance of the RAFALE: even at high angle-of-attack, it remains fully agile, and its range performance in strike missions with heavy weapon loads is unmatched for such a compact design.
An advanced digital “Fly-by-Wire” (FBW) Flight Control System (FCS) provides for longitudinal stability and superior handling performance. The FCS is quadruple redundant with three digital channels and one separately designed analog channel, with no mechanical back-up: design independence between channels is key to avoiding simultaneous anomalies on all channels.
The Flight Control System of the RAFALE attains the highest level of flight safety by leveraging on the extensive experience of DASSAULT AVIATION in Fly-by-Wire technology: one million flight hours without a single accident caused by the FCS.
The RAFALE is safe and easy to fly in all flight regimes, featuring the same precise, yet benign handling performance in all load-out configurations throughout the flight envelope.
The flight control system of the RAFALE offers auto flight in terrain following mode in all weather conditions, allowing the RAFALE to fly unobserved in the opponent’s airspace: an important survivability factor in a high threat environment.
The radar cross section of the airframe has been kept to the lowest possible value by selecting the most adequate outer mold line and materials. Most of the stealth design features are classified, but some of them are clearly visible, such as the serrated patterns on the trailing edge of the wings and canards.
DASSAULT AVIATION has long been recognised for designing sturdy airframes that sustain over 30 years of operation without heavy structural upgrades.
Thanks to the DASSAULT AVIATION unique know-how infinite element modelisation, the RAFALE airframe fatigue is monitored with the same gauge-free concept which has proved its worth on the MIRAGE 2000 fleet.
Composite materials are extensively used in the RAFALE and they account for 70% of the wetted area. They also account for the 40% increase in the max take-off weight to empty weight ratio compared with traditional airframes built of aluminium and titanium.