Collet-Billon On French Defense Strategy To 2019

By Amy Svitak
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

How is the Rafale's new AESA [active, electronically scanned array] radar working out?

It is a game-changer. The first AESA is in service now. And we are very happy to be the first in Europe to have this kind of radar after the Americans. Meteor is fitted for this radar, and we are confident it will deliver outstanding results.

Will there be an F4 standard?

We are planning to have the F4 standard after 2020. By the end of this decade, the development could be launched. The technical perimeter is not frozen, but research and feasibility studies have been initiated. The main priorities include new radar modes to take advantage of the full capabilities of the new RBE2 AESA, and the upgrade of Thales's Spectra defensive-aid system for operations in high-density environments, as well as integration of new or upgraded weapons. After the 2030s, for the 2040 timeframe, there will be a capability need for future combat aircraft systems (FCAS) that means FCAS likely will be a mix of upgraded Rafale and an unmanned combat air system (UCAS). That means we probably need a midlife upgrade for Rafale.

What mix of manned and unmanned fighters will you fly?

We are studying many hypotheses: Maybe Rafale can fly with more than one UCAS. For example, one Rafale flying with four UCAS.

What is the status of Anglo-Franco cooperation on an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) by BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation?

Our top priority for the UCAV road map is the French-British collaboration. A first major milestone, after the current risk-reduction studies, will be the launch of a first phase of an FCAS demonstration program as early as next year. It is not very expensive, and it is a necessity. After the demo, at the end of 2015, we have to set new contracts. Before 2020 we have to have worked out what we can afford and what we can technologically achieve. We do not want to make dreams; we want to develop an effective system.

How does the DGA/Dassault Neuron UCAV demo fit with this?

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