Potential customers (Wikipedia)
The Rafale is one of the six fighter jets competing for India's tender for 126 multi-role fighters. In April 2009, media reports surfaced stating that the Indian Air Force (IAF) had disqualified Rafale from the competition for not meeting minimum performance requirements of the IAF. However, India's Defence Ministry dismissed these media reports and said that the Rafale was still in the race for the contract. In April 2011, the IAF shortlisted Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoonfor the $12 billion contract.
In January 2006, the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche reported that Libya wanted to order 13–18 Rafales "in a deal worth as much as $3.24 billion". In December 2007, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi openly declared the Libyan interest in the Rafale. Greece has also expressed an interest in the French fighter, possibly in exchange for its fleet of Mirages. Libya did not order any Rafales; ironically, less than three years later during a Libyan uprising of 2011 in 2011, French Rafales were dispatched over Libya as a part of the 2011 military intervention in Libya; missiles such as SCALP EG were deployed from carrier-based Rafales. During 2006, the British Royal Navy considered the Rafale as an alternative to the F-35 JSF, but decided to proceed with the F-35. However the aircraft carriers will be modified in order to operate CATOBAR aircraft such as Rafales.
In February 2007, it was reported that Switzerland was considering the Rafale and other fighters to replace its F-5 Tiger IIs. The one month evaluation started in October 2008 at Emmen Airforce Base consisting of approx. 30 evaluation flights. The Rafale along with the Gripen and the Eurofighter were to be evaluated. In September, La Tribune reported that a sale to Morocco had fallen through, the government selecting the F-16 instead. In October 2007, La Tribune's earlier report appeared to have been confirmed that the Rafale would not be bought.
In January 2008, O Estado de S. Paulo reported that the Brazilian Defence Minister visited France to discuss the possibility of acquiring Rafale fighters for the F-X2 program. In June 2008, the Brazilian Air Force divulged a Request For Information to the following companies and their aircraft: F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35 Lightning II, Dassault Rafale, Su-35, Gripen NG and Eurofighter Typhoon. In October 2008, it was reported that Brazilian Air Force had selected three finalists for F-X2; Dassault Rafale, Gripen NG and Boeing F/A-18E/F. On 7 September 2009, during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Brazil announced a pact with France and that the nations are in contract negotiations to buy 36 Rafales. The crash of two Rafales in the Mediterranean off Perpignan on 24 September 2009 after a midair collision, comes at a delicate time for the Brazil-France negotiations. On 5 January 2010, media reports stated that the final evaluation report by the Brazilian Air Force placed the Gripen ahead of the other two contenders. The decisive factor was apparently the overall cost of the new fighters, both in terms of unit cost, and operating and maintenance costs. Some sources say that Rafale was chosen by the Defense Ministry, but there has been no confirmation on this. In February, 2011, the press announced that the new president of Brazil,Dilma Rousseff, had decided in favor of the American F-18 fighter. On 28 February 2011, the Minister of Finance, Guido Mantega, said the issue would not be resolved in the current year, citing "lack of resources", due to budgetary constraints for the new fiscal year.
In February 2009, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that Kuwait was considering buying up to 28 Rafales, but with no firm order then. The same month, France offered Rafales to Oman to replace its ageing fleet of SEPECAT Jaguars. But in 2010, Oman prefers to order the Typhoon.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was interested in a version of the Rafale that would be upgraded with more powerful engines and radar and advanced air to air missiles. They have now started to explore a purchase of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. This is reported to be because France's Defense Minister Hervé Morin has asked the UAE to pay 2 billion euros of the total cost to upgrade the Rafale.
Leaked United States State Department cables have said that "French representatives have tried to spin the Rafale's dismal performance in the global market to be the result of U.S. government political pressure rather than the aircraft's shortcomings".
- Rafale A
- A technology demonstrator that first flew in 1986. It has now been retired.
- Rafale D
- Dassault used this designation (D for discret or stealthy) in the early 1990s for the production versions for the Armée de l'Air, to emphasise the new semi-stealthy features they had added to the design.
- Rafale B
- This is the two-seater version for the Armée de l'Air; delivered to ECE 05.330 in 2004.
- Rafale C
- This is the single-seat version for the Armée de l'Air; delivered to ECE 05.330 in June 2004.
- Rafale M
- This is the carrier-borne version for the Aéronavale, which entered service in 2002. The Rafale M weighs about 500 kg (1,100 lb) more than the Rafale C. Very similar to the Rafale C in appearance, the M differs in the following respects:
- Strengthened to withstand the rigors of carrier-based aviation
- Stronger landing gear
- Longer nose gear leg to provide a more nose-up attitude for catapult launches
- Deleted front centre pylon (to give space for the longer gear)
- Large stinger-type tailhook between the engines
- Built-in power operated boarding ladder
- Carrier microwave landing system
- "Telemir" inertial reference platform that can receive updates from the carrier systems.
- Rafale N
- The Rafale N, originally called the Rafale BM, was planned to be a two-seater version for the Aéronavale. Budget constraints and the cost of training extra crew members have been cited as the grounds for its cancellation.