French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has given approval for the initial development of the new F4 standard for Dassault Rafale combat aircraft.
The new Rafale F4 standard will include improvements to network working methods, sensor developments and their integration.
Le Drian said: "The launch of the F4 standard is essential to provide our forces, by 2025, with an aircraft with increased performance, responding to the increasingly demanding realities of our foreign commitments.
“Its development will closely involve the forces, the Directorate General of Armaments and our defence industries."
The development of the new standard will be based on the feedback from combat operations, the French Ministry of Defence stated.
Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier said: “The F4 standard will incorporate operational experience feedback and enable continuous improvement of the Rafale to be maintained.
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"It will reinforce the national skills and technological capabilities essential for preparing the development of the next generation of combat aircraft.
“I am also delighted that the Defense Ministry underlines the need to continue with acquisition of the Rafale, beyond the 4th tranche currently in production, in order primarily to meet the needs of the French Air Force.
"Finally, this robust national foundation will constitute a launch pad for our aircraft in future export markets.”
The first aircraft equipped with F4 standard will enter service by 2025 but certain functionalities will be available as early as 2023.
The new standard is part of the continuing development of the aircraft, which will progressively constitute the entire French manned combat aircraft fleet, according to the ministry.