From Ouragan to Rafale

Since the beginning of the 20th century, when aviation was first developed, Dassault Aviation has distinguished itself in the aeronautical world by designing, building and producing a large number of aircraft of all types. The company has an eminently dual character. From the Éclair propeller of 1916 to the Falcon 6X and the Rafale, it has accumulated unique know-how. A major player in national sovereignty and a founder of the industrial revolution of the digital enterprise, Dassault Aviation is the only company in the world to design, produce, manufacture and support combat aircraft, instruments of political independence, and business aircraft, tools for work and economic development.

The French Air Force and Dassault Aviation have worked together for many years. Dassault Aviation has created several generations of aircraft that have accompanied the missions of French forces.

The Ouragan-Mystère family

True to his policy of small technical steps, Marcel Dassault and his engineers set out to bring French military aviation up to the highest world standards.

The Ouragan flew in 1949. It was the first mass-produced French jet fighter and the first French military aircraft exported after World War II. Its successor, the Mystère II, was the first French aircraft to officially break the sound barrier. The Mystère IV, in spite of an external aerodynamic apparently identical to that of the Mystère II, is an entirely new aircraft: section of the fuselage piriform, thinner wing with increased arrow (32° with 25% of the chord), clearly higher power. It is equipped with hydraulic servos. The Ouragan and the Mystère IV were used by the Patrouille de France. The Super-Mystère B-2 is the first fighter aircraft produced in Western Europe to reach supersonic speed in horizontal flight at low altitude. The production of the Super-Mystère B-2 brought a significant evolution in manufacturing. The wing and empennages benefit from a new technology, called integral structure. It reduces the assembly time and allows a gain in weight as well as robustness. It also allows an increase in the volume of fuel carried.

With 1,089 aircraft produced, 271 of which were exported, the renewal of French wings is assured.


Mirage III

The symbol of Dassault Aviation’s success. For its collaborators, this aircraft is Marcel Dassault’s greatest stroke of genius. Its success during the Six-Day War made it world famous. Launched at the end of 1955, the Mirage III 001 flew at Melun-Villaroche on November 17, 1956, in the hands of Roland Glavany. The aircraft is very versatile. With few modifications, it could be used for interception, tactical fighter, ground attack or reconnaissance. The last examples were withdrawn from operational units in 1994. Some of them continued to serve at the French government’s flight test center (CEV) after that date. Thanks to the 1,400 Mirage III/5/50s produced, France proved that it was a leading industrial nation.


Mirage IV

Developed following the Suez crisis (1956), this is a supersonic twin-engine bomber capable of flying 4,500 km with in-flight refuelling. The external resemblance of this magnificent aircraft with the Mirage III is striking, in particular the delta wing. The Mirage IV is the first component of the French strategic nuclear deterrent. Dassault Aviation is the prime contractor for the complete weapon system: aircraft, navigation and bombing system, as well as the nuclear weapon envelope and separation. The Mirage IV made its first flight on June 17, 1959 at Melun-Villaroche, piloted by Roland Glavany. Sixty-two production aircraft equipped the French strategic nuclear forces between 1964 and 2005.


Jaguar

This supersonic twin-engine tactical support and advanced training aircraft was designed and built by France and Great Britain. Within the joint company SEPECAT, Breguet, then Dassault Aviation from 1967 onwards, and the British Aircraft Corporation, developed and produced the Jaguar in its various versions, single-seater or two-seater.

The first prototype flew at Istres on September 8, 1968, piloted by Bernard Witt.

605 Jaguars were produced, 200 of which served in the French Air Force from 1973 to 2005, and 203 in the Royal Air Force from 1973 to 2007. The Jaguar has been exported to Ecuador, India, Nigeria and Oman. It has been involved in several conflicts, including the Gulf War in 1991, where it carried out delicate missions thanks in particular to its laser-guided weapons.


Mirage F1

Derived from the Mirage F2 (1966), which returned to the classic formula of a swept wing with tails, the Mirage F1 is a single-seat defense and air superiority aircraft. The return to this formula was facilitated by technological progress allowing the manufacture of an ultra-thin and robust wing offering a glide ratio in supersonic flight equivalent to that of the delta wing. The fuselage is made of an integral watertight structure, to accommodate the maximum amount of fuel. The Mirage F1 entered service with the French Air Force in 1973, and over 700 have been sold in 11 countries.


Alpha Jet

The Alpha Jet is a two-seat tandem jet for training and tactical support, designed in cooperation by Dassault-Breguet (France) and Dornier (Germany) to meet a joint program established by the French and German air forces. The aircraft made its first flight on October 26, 1973 at Istres, France, piloted by Jean-Marie Saget. Since its entry into operational service in 1978, its technical definition has been modified to follow the evolution of navigation and attack systems. More than 500 Alpha Jets have been ordered by 10 countries: France, Germany, Belgium, Qatar, Ivory Coast, Togo, Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt and Cameroon. It has also equipped the Patrouille de France since 1981.


Mirage 2000

The Mirage 2000 entered service with the French Air Force in 1984 in its air defense version (C and B), and has been appreciated by its users. The arrival of the Mirage 2000 marked the beginning of a new era. The various versions of the aircraft have brought significant improvements in terms of maneuverability, pilot comfort, safety, operational capabilities and countermeasures. The quality and safety of its flight controls, as well as the simplicity of its maintenance, are renowned. Deployed in combat in many operational theaters, the Mirage 2000 has become a benchmark in terms of availability, maintenance and scalability. Its interoperability with other NATO aircraft and its combat effectiveness have been proven. More than 600 Mirage 2000 have been produced, including 286 for seven foreign air forces.


Rafale

The Rafale is the result of 70 years of technological excellence in the French jet fighter industry, which began with the Ouragan and continued with the Mystère, Mirage and Jaguar families.

The Rafale entered service with the French Air Force in 2006 and was designed as a multirole fighter capable of carrying out missions previously performed by seven different types of aircraft. In France, 225 Rafales will replace 700 previous-generation aircraft in the Air Force, the French Space Agency and the French Navy. A true “force multiplier”, the Rafale is a factor in rationalizing the armed forces while keeping costs under control. The aircraft’s open architecture allows for configuration and standard upgrades to remain at the highest technological and operational level. The current F3-R standard, combined with the active antenna radar (the first in Europe), reinforces the Rafale’s strengths in air-to-air (Meteor missile) and air-to-ground missions (AASM with laser terminal guidance, Talios guidance pod). The F4 standard, which will further enhance the aircraft’s connectivity, will enter service in 2025.

The Rafale will be the French army’s fighter aircraft until at least 2050.

 

 


Back to top