A close-up shot! What is the latest French fighter plane “Rafale”, which is said to cost 7 billion yen per plane, doing in Japan? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

A close-up shot! What is the latest French fighter plane “Rafale”, which is said to cost 7 billion yen per plane, doing in Japan?

The Rafale is an ultra-high-performance aircraft capable of carrying nuclear cruise missiles at a price of 7 billion yen per plane!

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Since production began in the ’80s, updates have continued. The brand is also being exported overseas and has been adopted in seven countries, including India and Egypt.

Rafale” means “gale” in French. It is the main fighter of the French Air Force. As its name suggests, it flies at supersonic speed and is a masterpiece of France, highly regarded as a versatile fighter for air-to-air, ground, and ship-to-ship attacks,” said military journalist Akihiro Ito.

On July 26, two Rafale landed at Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture, accompanied by one transport aircraft and one aerial refueling transport aircraft. This was the first flight to Japan. What is the purpose of the landing of these ultra-high-performance aircraft, which are said to cost 7 billion yen each?

From June 25 to August 3, France is deploying military aircraft to the Indo-Pacific region for a large-scale exercise called Pegasus 23, in which it will conduct joint training with 10 countries, including Singapore and Malaysia. The main purpose of the exercise is to enhance joint response capabilities with partner countries, and the visit to Japan is part of that effort.

During their stay in Japan until July 29, a Japan-France formation flying exercise centered on three F-15 fighter jets, the mainstay of the Air Self-Defense Force, and two Rafale aircraft was also conducted in the skies over the Iruma Air Base in Saitama Prefecture. The Rafale then departed for its next destination, Indonesia.

The latest F-4 model that came to Japan has greatly enhanced radar and sensor capabilities, a maximum speed of Mach 2, and the ability to operate air-launched cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads,” said military journalist Fumitaro Kuroi.

This is the first time in history that the Self-Defense Forces and the French military have conducted joint training exercises in Japan. Why did the French military make this seemingly abrupt entry into Japan? Mr. Ito explains the background.

France is a maritime power with the world’s second largest territorial waters and exclusive economic zones. It also has a large number of overseas territories in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific. That is why they are nervous about China’s posture, which aims to dominate the oceans through military power.

Mr. Kuroi continues.

The Western nations have long felt a great sense of crisis over China’s rapid military expansion. France, as a major country in this regard, is highly aware of the situation, which has led to its dispatch this time. Joint training exercises in Japan have an important meaning as a check against China.”

The Air Self-Defense Force is also scheduled to conduct joint drills with the Italian Air Force in early August and with the Royal Australian Air Force later in the month. As Western nations become increasingly concerned about the Chinese threat, Japan’s importance is only increasing.

While Japan’s mainstay F-15 aircraft is about 19 meters long, the Rafale is about 15 meters long. Taking advantage of its compact size, the Rafale is also in operation as a carrier-borne aircraft.

From the August 18-25, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Nobuo Koyama

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