Histoire & Collections: Dassault Rafale
|Histoire & Collections|
|$24.95 MSRP from Casemate|
80 pages, softcover, 7.75 x 9.5 inches
Book number 16 in their Aircraft of the French Air Force and Navy collection is on the Dassault Rafale. This is the current flagship of French military aviation. Unlike the US F-22 and F-35, it was not designed to be stealthy. It is more along the line of the Typhoon II in that it is relatively low radar signature, but it was not felt that the additional work was really somthing that was necessary.
Initially, France was involved in the program that resulted in the Eurofighter but the requirements of the French simply did not appear to match what was being developed so they pulled out and ended up designing their own aircraft. Actually, many think that it was more a need to keep the French aviation industry, and in this case Dassault, a viable company. It undoubtedly meant a more expensive aircraft, but that was felt to be necessary.
The Rafale was developed for both the air force and the navy with the navy being that which was in greater need. Their F-8E(N) Crusaders were becoming long in the tooth and even upgrades would not totally alleviate the need for a new plane. Initially the navy wanted Hornets, but the French government put the skids on that and had Dassault develop a naval Rafale. This as much as anything delayed the departure of the Crusader, though for a year or so, the French navy was without a fighter as the F-8 had reached the end of its service life before the first Rafale was delivered.
The Rafale is designed to replace the Mirage F.1, Super Etendard, Crusader, Jaguar and eventually the Mirage 2000. The actual number of aircraft to be delivered had steadily decreased over the years, just like it has for planes in the US, UK and other nations. For this reason, it has to be very much a multi-purpose aircraft. Initially, its capabilities were limited as a need to get it into service meant that initial production aircraft did not have the equipment for which the plane was initially designed. However, in the ten years it has been in service, most planes are now upgraded to current specs.
The author does an excellent job of covering the development, design and eventual squadron service of the Rafale. Though foreign sales, a real strong point of Dassault in the past, have been weak as the 'usual suspects' have bought other types, nations such as Egypt and India have planes in service or on order with other nations showing interest in the type. It has also seen some combat since squadron introduction in the early 2000s so it a combat veteran.
In like with other books in the series, there are a ton of great photos, most of them in full color and some excellent color profiles to go along with them. In all, it makes a super book on this increasingly popular and quite useful French fighter. I should also add that the book is in English.
Review book courtesy of Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link.
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