Dassault Rafale: This Fighter Can Kill An F-22 Raptor in a Dogfight

Dassault Rafale
February 29, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Dassault RafaleF-22F-22 RaptorStealthMilitaryDefense

Dassault Rafale: This Fighter Can Kill An F-22 Raptor in a Dogfight

The Dassault Rafale, a French fourth-generation multi-role fighter jet, stands as a potent but often underappreciated asset in modern air warfare.

Summary: The Dassault Rafale, a French fourth-generation multi-role fighter jet, stands as a potent but often underappreciated asset in modern air warfare. Designed to fulfill multiple roles—ranging from air superiority and strategic attack to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance—the Rafale carries an impressive array of weaponry on its 14 external hardpoints. Equipped with advanced AESA radar capable of tracking multiple targets and engaging several simultaneously, and powered by two Snecma M88 engines enabling speeds up to Mach 1.8, the Rafale has proven its capabilities in various operations. Notably, it demonstrated its dogfighting prowess by engaging a U.S. F-22 Raptor in a mock battle, showcasing its versatility and strength. The French military plans to continue its service well into the 2050s.

The Dassault Rafale: France's Answer to Air Dominance

In modern warfare, air power is critical. If you have it, you can win a war. If you don’t have it, you will struggle to survive. If neither you nor your adversary has it, like in Ukraine, then other domains of warfare shine. 

Several fighter jets can help you win the skies. The F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-15 Eagle, the F-22 Raptor, the F-35 Lighting II, and the JAS 39 Gripen are just some. 

But an often overlooked aircraft is the French Dassault Rafale. 

Dassault Rafale Fighter

A fourth-generation multi-role fighter jet, the Dassault Rafale is equally capable in air-to-air and air-to-ground operations. 

Indeed, when Dassault launched the Rafale program in the 1980s, the French Air Force and French Navy set joined requirements for a multi-role aircraft that could replace seven different aircraft in operation. The Dassault Rafale is capable of air superiority, strategic attack, close air support, maritime, nuclear deterrence, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission sets.

The pride of the French Air Force can pack some robust weapon systems in 14 external hard points. Some of these munitions include the Meteor very long-range air-to-air missile, the Mica heat-seeking and radar-seeking air-to-air missile, the AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile, the AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided missile, AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, the SCALP-EG stand-off cruise missile, the Hammer air-to-ground munition, the AM39 Exocet anti-ship missile, as well as conventional and smart bombs. The fighter jet has an external load capacity of over 20,000 pounds. The Rafale also packs a power Nexter 30M791 30mm cannon with 2,500 rounds. 

Regarding sensors, the fighter jet is equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array” (AESA) RBE2 radar that can track up to 40 targets simultaneously and engage four simultaneously. 

Another exciting feature of the Dassault Rafale is its ability to refuel other Rafales through its “buddy-buddy” system. This ability has proven extremely useful in action, and the aircraft has demonstrated that it can fly for more than 10 hours during actual operations.

Powered by two Snecma M88 engines, the Rafale can reach max speeds of Mach 1.8 and has an operational ceiling of 50,000 feet. 

The French military plans to operate the Dassault Rafale well into the 2050s.

Rafale In Action: It Beat the F-22 Raptor 

Back in 2009, there was an exciting training incident where the Rafale unveiled its impressive capabilities in dogfighting. 

During a training event in the United Arab Emirates, a Dassault Rafale managed to “shoot down” in a mock dogfight a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet. 

The U.S. Air Force denied that the Rafale had “shot down” the F-22 Raptor, prompting the French to release a cockpit video showing the incident. Although the Rafale and its pilot had to push themselves to their limits, even pulling 9Gs at some point, the French fighter jet showed that it could “shoot down” a stealth fighter jet. (It is worth watching the video as it shows a fascinating dogfight between the two very capable aircraft and the physical strains pilots undergo.)

About the Author  

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP. Email the author: [email protected].