On Friday, December 06, 2019, the initial operational capability of the Rafale F3-R standard was declared by the French Air Force. This announcement follows several months of training of crews and technical staff of the Air Force Command and the Strategic Air Force Command on this standard since it was officially accepted in July.
While continuing to ramp up the operational units, this key step before the integration in early 2020 of the METEOR missile and the TALIOS laser designator pod allows the Air Force to use the Rafale F3-R for its permanent missions of nuclear deterrence, foreign operations and protection of French airspace, known as Posture Permanente de Sûreté (Permanent Security Posture).
This is a major step towards service introduction of the Rafale F3-R, which will integrate the two new payloads by the end of the first half of 2020.
This standard is nevertheless just one step, and confirms the Rafale's growth potential. The development of the F4 standard was launched in late 2018. It will continue to evolve to bring combat aircraft to the Future Air Combat System (SCAF).