French Air Force Rafael aircraft

Thales has been awarded a ten-year fixed-price contract by the French Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide electronic equipment support for the French Air Force’s Rafale aircraft fleet.

The contract, also known as optimised through-life support for Thales Class B equipment and support systems for Rafale (MAESTRO), was awarded by the French MoD’s through-life support of aeronautical equipment (SIMMAD). Under the contract, the company will maintain the phased array radar, electronic warfare system, avionics including displays and computers, OSF front-sector optronics, cameras and communication systems onboard Rafael aircraft.

Under the support contract, Thales will also guarantee fleet availability by optimising replacement parts management, logistics management, streamline equipment repair and deploy on-site technical and logistics advisers to meet broader requirements. Thales Military Aerospace Customer Support vice-president and Services managing director Merry Michaux said that the contract will optimise availability of the Rafale fleet and provides cost-per-flying-hour information for the aircraft.

The twin-jet combat aircraft, built by Dassualt Aviation, has been designed to conduct short and long-range missions including ground and sea attack, air defence and air superiority, reconnaissance, and high-accuracy strike or nuclear strike deterrence. The Rafale is equipped with an electronic warfare system including laser warning receiver, missile warning, detection systems, jammers and laser designation pods enabling laser guidance of air-to-ground missiles.

Powered by two Snecma M88 turbofans, the aircraft is armed with the Mica air-to-air missile, AM39 Exocet anti-ship missile and ASMP-A nuclear weapon, Raytheon’s GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb and an avionics suite. The aircraft is also being considered by Brazil, Switzerland and India. The contract value remains undisclosed.

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Image: Thales will support electronic equipment on the French Air Force’s Rafale aircraft fleet.