Rafale is flying for the first time

As the Americans and Soviets unveiled new warplanes, winds of change swept across Europe. Dassault is creating a demonstration, baptized raffle A for French Air Force and Navy orders.

An ambitious project

In the middle of the Cold War, the Americans released their brand new F-15 Eagle Fighter (first flew July 27, 1972) and the Soviet response, the MiG-29 (first flew October 6, 1977). Then it became clear to the Europeans that the fleet of warplanes needed to be renewed and that this was for the 2000s horizon. Several planes were under development then but the needs of the French were much more specific than the needs of others. European countries. Thus, when the English, Germans, Italians and Spaniards came together to build an aircraft superior to a bomb-capable aircraft, the French were looking for an aircraft capable of replacing 7 types of warplanes:

  • Jaguar (Air-to-Ground Attack and Reconnaissance Mission)
  • Super Atenard (ground attack mission in naval aeronautics)
  • F-8E (FN) Crusader (Naval Aeronautics Air Superiority Mission)
  • Mirage F1 (Multirole, Reconnaissance and Bombing)
  • Mirage 2000 D / N (Accurate Assault / Nuclear Bomb Mission)
  • Mirage 2000C (Airspace Security and Air Defense Mission)
  • Mirage IV (Reconnaissance Mission, Atomic Bombing)

Nevertheless, a project with France is still under discussion. However, Dassault has continued to develop its European aircraft exhibitors without signing any agreement yet. The ax fell in August 1985, when France withdrew from the Experimental Aircraft Program (EAP) and focused on Dassault’s ACX. On December 14 of the same year – and 6 months before EAP – the demonstrator of the future French fighter plane, the Baptized Rafale (F-ZJRE), was presented to the general public as well as the father of the aeronautical company. Dassault, Marcel Dassault.

Flying at Rafale …

The first flight

On July 4, 1986, tension erupted at Istress (Bouches-du-Rhone) Air Base 125: Rafale flew for the first time in a row on the runway (video below). The pilot first tests and crosses – without an afterburner – will also perform a sound barrier to reach the Mac 1.32 and a turn at 5g. It should be noted that the aircraft was then equipped with two American F404-GE-400 engines.

However, for the first time since the experimental flight of the MD 315 Flamant, the Dassault tradition will not be respected; Marcel Dassault’s traditional question about the behavior of the device to the experimental pilot during landing from the plane. In fact, Marcel Dassault died on April 17, 1986.

A successful first exhibition

On September 2, 1986, at around 2:40 p.m., Rafale’s direct rival, the European Aviation Project (EAP), flew into the air. The display is timid: the pilot has been instructed not to push the plane, he has only been flying since August 8 and he has about fifteen flights on the clock. By contrast, the Rafale flew at 3:40 pm and had an impressive display with a candle-powered take-off and a small landing at very low speeds.

A well-deserved leisure

In 1989, Rafale conducted landing methods and simulations for the Navy version of Rafale. On July 12, 1989, the first test episode ended with 431 flight hours. The second phase did not begin until February 27, 1990, as the aircraft returned to the factory to receive an SNECMA M88-2 engine (left engine) but placed an American F404-GE-400 on the right. The tests were final and on January 24, 1994, the Demonstrator at Rafale made its 867th and final flight with four operational prototypes. As shown in the attached tweet, the tarmac of the Air and Space Museum in Rafale is visible.

… with a pilot already known

The pilot responsible for the first Rafale flight was named Guy Mitax-Maurward. At the time, he was Dassault’s chief experimental pilot and had already flown the Mirage Milan, Mirage F1, Mirage 2000, Mirage 4000 and Mirage G8 prototypes. He will be known worldwide for his raffle performances, but he has already been known to readers and aviation enthusiasts since the 1960s. In fact, at the time, the pilot newspaper Buck Danny tried to compete with comic strips (Le Journal de Spiru) and Dan Cooper (Le Journal Tintin). The challenge falls on Jean-Michel Charlier as screenwriter and Albert Udderzo as designer. The latter seeks a model for one of his characters. During a visit to Creil (Oise) Air Base 110, he met a young lieutenant, pilot in SPA 93: Guy Mitax-Maurward. Thus she became a model for Michelle Tangue’s character, visible on more than thirty comic strips, these lines are still produced at the time of writing.

Guy will take care of the Mitax-Maurward civilian aircraft and in particular the Falcon 900EX, on which he holds four world speed records on a single route:

  • February 3, 1996: Paris (France) – Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), maximum speed 953.57 km / h. He holds the joint record with Olivier Dassault and Partik Experton on this flight.
  • February 4, 1996: Paris (France) – Singapore (Singapore), maximum speed 844.08 km / h. He holds the joint record with Olivier Dassault and Partik Experton on this flight.
  • November 16, 1996: Sydney (Australia) – Maui / Kahului (Hawaii, USA), top speed 836.15 km / h.
  • November 22, 1996: Orlando (Florida, USA) – Paris (France), top speed 925.60 km / h.

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