Up to 200 Rafales could replace aging Mideast F-15C/D Eagles

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Yes, it is about Saudi Arabia. A little unexpected in the background of long-standing relations with the US administration, which almost always without problems gave permission to Riyadh to buy American-made weapons systems.

Photo credit: Reddit

Today, however, “more than ever the name of the Dassault Aviation Rafale F4 is on everyone’s lips when discussing the case of the Royal Saudi Air Force.” This is written by the French specialized aviation publication Avions Legendaires.

French journalists report a fact that has become apparent in the last few weeks – the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron and the Minister of Defense Sebastien Lecorne play the role of trade representatives in concluding such a deal. High-level diplomacy has become an integral part of the weapons technology trade process in recent years.

Change the direction of the wind

Photo credit: Twitter

Not only in France, but they also noticed the intensified Parisian diplomacy and France’s attempts to conclude the “deal of the century”. However, it is a deal between 100 and 200 Dassault Aviation Rafale F4 fighters. According to French journalists, but also according to Asian media, the French fighters could replace Riyadh’s aging 83 McDonnell-Douglas F-15C/D Eagles.

The Kingdom of Riyadh’s burgeoning interest in French fighter jets might herald an underlying shift in its military strategies – a possible incipient mistrust towards its erstwhile suppliers of fighter jets if the EurAsian Times is to be perceived accurately. Within the purview of its conjecture, a bespoke decision by the kingdom to deviate from tradition is likely to exert strain on the well-established camaraderie between the two long-time allies. The origin of such strain can be traced to the fact that the US stands as Saudi Arabia’s paramount armaments provider, according to the postulations made by the authors of that newspaper.

Berlin watches with interest

Photo: Eurofighter Typhoon

Of course, another entrant is also headed to replace the American fighter jets, and that is the Eurofighter Typhoon. This time the wind direction is coming from Berlin.

In an unforeseen development reported by the respected German publication, Bild, there appears to be a veiled alteration in Germany’s aircraft export strategy. The nation, initially projected to supply Ukraine with Eurofighter jets, is now surreptitiously redirecting its sales endeavor toward Saudi Arabia. This unexpected maneuver is inciting substantial debate and causing tumult in the political corridors.

The notable publication, Bild, sheds light on an intensifying strain in the relationship between Ukraine and its Western allies. This tension is primarily generated by the latter’s apparent reticence to supply military aircraft for Ukraine’s defense. 

In particular, Germany, which takes pride in its impressive array of approximately 140 Eurofighter jets, has opted to maintain a restrained position. The decision to abstain from providing aircraft, or even imparting training to Ukrainian pilots, has further fanned the flames of this escalating discord.

Photo credit: Sputnik News


As the intricate web of conspiracy unfurls, the German federal government is found to be clandestinely plotting the exportation of nearly 50 Eurofighters to Saudi Arabia. The affluent Middle Eastern nation’s financial prowess, which enables them to comfortably finance such lavish defense acquisitions, stands in stark juxtaposition to the economically beleaguered Ukraine.

In a brazen display of dissent, Anton Hofreiter, the individual leading the helm of the Green Party, forthrightly called into question the decisions made by the Scholz administration. His remarks, poignant and direct, encapsulated the sentiment, “It stands to reason that inexorably supplying modern arms to dictatorships and autocracies while simultaneously denying the very same privileges to Ukraine is indefensible.”

The French publication Avions Legendaires again wrote about the discreet deal. According to the French journalists, “In mid-July it became clear that the German government had finally thwarted the sale of forty-eight Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon Tranche 4 fighter jets of the 4.5 generation, thereby incurring the wrath of the United Kingdom.”

Revenge because of GCAP

How successful French diplomacy will be if this deal goes through is hard to say. But one fact that has become so within a month cannot be ignored.

Photo credit: UK MoD

Riyadh originally wanted to join the Global Combat Air Program [GCAP]. On first reading, London would have no problem with such an accession. However, Japan, which is a participant in the same program, expressed its displeasure. The reasons given for Japan’s refusal are again political – the controversial issue of the conflict in Yemen and the imperative need to respect human rights.

The fact that Saudi Arabia is “circling” the manufacturers of combat aircraft actually confirms Riyadh’s intention in the next decade to end its business with the McDonnell-Douglas F-15C/D Eagle and with the Panavia Tornado. The sharp improvement in Franco-Saudi relations and the “increasing” mention of the Rafale F4 as a very good solution for the Royal Saudi Air Force may be precisely the kind of revenge against Berlin, London, and Tokyo that indirectly affects Washington.

About Dassault Rafale fighter jet

Photo credit: Dassault Rafale

The Rafael fighter jet, also known as the Dassault Rafale, is a French multirole fighter aircraft. It is designed to perform a wide range of missions, including air superiority, ground attack, reconnaissance, and nuclear deterrence. The aircraft is known for its advanced technology, versatility, and high performance.

The Rafael fighter jet is powered by two SNECMA M88 engines, which are afterburning turbofan engines. These engines provide the aircraft with a maximum speed of Mach 1.8 and a range of approximately 3,700 kilometers.

The M88 engines are known for their reliability, efficiency, and thrust-to-weight ratio, which allows the aircraft to perform various maneuvers and operate in different environments.

The Rafael fighter jet has several notable technical characteristics. It has a length of 15.27 meters, a wingspan of 10.80 meters, and a height of 5.34 meters. The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 24,500 kilograms and can carry up to 9,500 kilograms of external stores, including missiles, bombs, and fuel tanks.

Photo credit: French MoD

It has a maximum altitude of 15,000 meters and can reach a maximum speed of 1,912 kilometers per hour. The Rafael fighter jet is equipped with advanced avionics, including a radar system, an electronic warfare suite, and a data link for communication and coordination with other aircraft and ground stations.

Rafale’s armament

The Dassault Rafale is a multi-role fighter aircraft that is equipped with a wide range of armament options. It can carry both air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, making it a versatile weapon platform.

In terms of air-to-air missiles, the Rafale is capable of carrying the MICA [Missile d’Interception, de Combat et d’Autodéfense] missile. The MICA missile comes in two variants: the MICA RF [Radio Frequency] and the MICA IR [Infrared]. The MICA RF is a beyond-visual-range missile that can engage targets at distances of up to 80 kilometers, while the MICA IR is a heat-seeking missile designed for close-range combat.

Photo credit: Defence Blog

For air-to-surface missions, the Rafale can carry a variety of missiles, including the SCALP [Système de Croisière Autonome à Longue Portée] missile. The SCALP is a long-range, precision-guided cruise missile that can strike targets at distances of over 250 kilometers. It is capable of carrying different warhead options, such as high-explosive or submunition warheads, depending on the mission requirements.

Another air-to-surface missile used by the Rafale is the AASM [Armement Air-Sol Modulaire]. The AASM is a modular, precision-guided munition that can be equipped with various guidance kits, such as inertial navigation, GPS, or infrared seekers. It has a range of up to 60 kilometers and can engage a wide range of ground targets, including armored vehicles, buildings, and infrastructure.

In addition to these missiles, the Rafale can also carry other air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, such as the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, the AM39 Exocet anti-ship missile, and various guided bombs and rockets. The Rafale’s armament capabilities make it a highly effective fighter aircraft for both air-to-air and air-to-surface missions.


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