Single-seat, multi-role, carrier-based fighter.
The Dassault Rafale is the most protracted development project in French aviation history. Starting in the late 1980's, the Rafale was developed to replace the existing fleet of aircraft used in the Armee del Aire and Aeronavale. The Naval variant, Rafale M, had the priority of development, since it was set to replace the Vought F-8E Crusader.
The Rafale is a twin-engined design, unlike the Crusader or Super Etendard. A massive and reinforced undercarriage permit the Rafale to handle the stress of carrier operations. The Rafale has seen action of Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom. Testing and training has seen the Rafale operate from U.S. Carriers alongside their Navy and Marine Corps counterparts.
The specific nature and cost of the Rafale has kept it out of the export market, despite being a very potent design. Brazil has come the closest to acquiring the Rafale for their FX2 fighter competition. Libya, Morocco, and India have shown strong interest in acquisition, but have yet to submit any orders.
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