The Dassault Rafale is a fantastic looking aircraft. Gradually being built in reasonable numbers, it has broken into the export market and has customers in Egypt and Qatar and probably India although exports to India are always hard to pin down! The French air force and navy will no longer be the sole operators. The Rafale B is a two seat version and the C is the Air Force’s single seat version. However, there was the Rafale A. One of them was built in the mid 1980s as a demonstrator. It looks almost identical to the production version but was actually slightly larger. Painted in Dassault’s house colors, it made a number of air show appearances. At the time, it was competing for attention with BAe’s EAP demonstrator. I didn’t get to see EAP until I got to Warton where I wasn’t able to photograph it!
Here are some shots of the Rafale A. It was originally powered by GE F404 engines although later one was swapped for the M88 that would power the production Rafale. The first Rafale C was rolled out in an all black paint scheme which made it look very cool. The size difference is not immediately obvious but a number of detail design changes were incorporated too including lots of sensors required for an operational type rather than the demonstrator. The wing planform was also altered slightly based on the experience gained with the demonstrator. I understand that, when the aircraft was retired, it went to the Museum at le Bourget in Paris.