French Air Force Rafale F3-R gains IOC

The Armée de l'Air (French Air Force) has declared initial operational capability (IOC) with its F3-R-standard Dassault Rafale multi-role fighter.

France formally accepted its first F3-R-standard Rafale in July 2019 and spent five months training crews and technical staff from the French air arm/strategic air forces on the platform before it received its official IOC on December 6.

The Rafale F3-R version of the French-produced fighter is the result of a joint-venture development between Dassault Aviation, MBDA, Safran and Thales, following a contract signed in 2013.

Rafale F3-R [Loïc Marzin/Armée de l'Air]
The Rafale F3-R in flight. Loïc Marzin/Armée de l'Air

The IOC milestone enables the French Air Force to employ the Rafale F3-R in airspace protection, nuclear deterrence and intervention missions. It also comes before further integration and development of the F3-R begins to ramp up at the start of the new decade.

In the first half of 2020, the Rafale F3-R will be integrated with MBDA’s Meteor active-radar-guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) along with Thales’ Targeting Long-Range Identification Optronic System (TALIOS) – a laser targeting pod.

The French Air Force is continuing development into the Rafale. The F4-standard version was announced in 2018.