Over the last decades, air forces have always been the first military components engaged in all crises or conflicts, from the Falklands to the Gulf, from Bosnia to Kosovo, from Afghanistan to Libya, and more recently Mali, the Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria.
Military aviation is undoubtedly the most strategic weapon today, both in terms of combat effectiveness and of critical technologies implemented.
In modern warfare, air dominance from day one is a must, so that air-to-ground and air-to-sea operations can be conducted safely and efficiently.
In the course of asymmetrical and counter-insurgency conflicts, the air arm also remains at the forefront of the military effort, its flexibility, its reactivity and its precise firing power helping ensure that allied forces prevail.
The September 11 events have shown that, in peacetime and in times of crisis and war, it is essential to secure the national airspace with air-defence assets that can take off extremely rapidly to carry out air policing missions. The decisive place of the air component in modern warfare is demonstrated by the defence strategies decided by those nations who want to keep a leading role on the world stage.
The Rafale, with its "Omnirole" capabilities, is the right answer to the capability approach selected by an increasing number of governments. It fully complies with the requirement to carry out the widest range of roles with the smallest number of aircraft.
The Rafale participates in permanent "Quick Reaction Alert" (QRA) / air-defence / air policing missions, nuclear deterrence duties, power projection and deployments for external missions, deep strike missions, air support for ground forces, reconnaissance missions, and pilot training sorties.
The Air Force single-seat Rafale C, the Air Force two-seat Rafale B, and the Navy single-seat Rafale M feature maximum airframe and equipment commonality, and very similar mission capabilities.
Lessons continuously learned from the latest conflicts where air power was used, can be summarised into four overarching expectations about weapon systems by political decision makers: "Versatility", that is the capability, with the same system, to perform different types of missions, "Interoperability", or the ability to fight in coalition with allies, using common procedures and standards agreements, collaborating and communicating in real-time with other systems, and even sharing support systems and equipment, "Flexibility", which can be illustrated by the ability to conduct several different missions in the course of the same sortie ("Omnirole" capability).
With this capability, it is possible to switch instantly on the demand of a political decision maker, from a coercion mission ("strike force") to a preventive mission (a dissuasive low-altitude, high-speed "show of force"), to intelligence gathering or to a protection mission (Air Superiority) or even to cancel a mission until the last second (reversibility), "Survivability", that is the capability to survive in a dense threat environment thanks to reduced signatures, to advanced electronic warfare systems, to the efficiency of its weapon system, to the reliability of its systems and to active security.
The "Omnirole" Rafale combines all these advantages: its design makes its relevant against both traditional and asymmetrical threats, it addresses the emerging needs of the armed forces in a changing geopolitical and security context, and, with its endless growth potential, it constantly remains at the forefront of the technical innovation.
Thanks to its versatility, its adaptability and its ability to meet all air mission requirements, including for high intensity warfare, the Rafale is the "poster child" transformational fighter which provides a way forward to air forces confronted to the requirement of doing "more" with "less", in an ever-changing strategic and economic environment.
Compact, yet extremely powerful, superbly agile and very discrete, the latest type of combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation does not only integrate the largest and most modern range of sensors, it also multiplies their efficiency with the particularly performing "multi-sensor data fusion".