I believe it was William Lear who once said “If it looks good, it will fly good.” This is something that can definitely stated for the Dassault Rafale. Although it took her nearly 15 years to become operational, Rafale was definitely worth the wait.
Take a delta wing planform, add a canard, mix in over 30,000 pounds of thrust, and you’ve got a heck of a start for any high-performance aircraft. Add an all glass cockpit, adapt a carrier version and the ability to perform a myriad of roles, and you’ve got yourself a highly capable combat platform.
Rafale’s early years were plagued with budgetary constraints and infighting among the nations who originally came together to design and produce her. When all was said and done, the almost-entirely French endeavor built an extremely nimble ass-kicker.
The Rafale’s introduction to real-world operations didn’t come too long after becoming fully operational. In 2002, just two years after delivery of the first jets, seven Rafale M’s deployed aboard the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to fly support missions in Afghanistan. Due to the high standard set by the Mirage F1, the Rafales were not used to deliver any ordinance on this deployment.
She would finally cut her teeth in combat in 2007. In March of that year a Rafale M from the Charles de Gaulle dropped a GBU-12 in support of Dutch troops in contact in Southern Afghanistan. Since wetting her whistle, Rafale has also seen combat action in Libya during Operation Harmattan. When all is said and done, Burner Friday wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of this beautiful aircraft.