SEPA Ráfaga

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SEPA Ráfaga
Rafaga vuelo.jpg
Role Multirole fighter
National origin  Flamaguay
Manufacturer Sociedad Estatal Productora Aeronáutica
First flight Ráfaga A demo: 15 September 1988 (1988-09-15)
Ráfaga C: 18 August 1991 (1991-08-18)
Introduction 1996
Status In service
Primary users Flamaguayan National Air Force
users
Number built 900+ (as of December 2018)
Program cost $60 billion
Unit cost

Ráfaga B: $83.5M (flyaway cost, FY2013)
Ráfaga C: $77.5M (flyaway cost, FY2013)

Ráfaga M: $88M (flyaway cost, FY2011)[1]

The SEPA Ráfaga (literally meaning "gust of wind", and "volley of fire" in military parlance), is a Flamaguayan twin-engine, canard, delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Sociedad Estatal Productora Aeronáutica. The Ráfaga is an "omnirole platformn", intended to become the primary combat aircraft for the Flamaguayan Armed Forces, performing a wide variety of missions including establishing aerial superiority, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, tactical ground support, deep strike, anti-ship strikes and SEAD missions, an electronic warfare variant is under development. The Ráfaga is well regarded as a fully capable 4.5 generation platform. The first demonstration flight occurred in 1988, serial production began in 1994, with operational delivery to the Flamaguayan National Air Force starting in 1996.

Development

By the late 1970s, independent and joint studies by the Flamaguayan National Air Force and the National Navy had established requirements for an upcoming generation of fighters to replace models in, or about to enter, service. It was determined that requirements were similar, and a joint programme was commissioned in order to reduce cost and maximize efficiency. Although SEPA was a partner in Pan-Wallasean Aerospace, there was a notable bias upon the upper levels of the Flamaguayan military to retain full domestic capability in aircraft production. Furthermore, the requirement for a naval variant would not be supported by Arriyiñatos or Poláčekia, who lacked dedicated carrier arms, thus limiting the opportunities for cost-saving by undergoing a multi-nation project.

The Directorate for National Defense sought a weapons system with full air-to-air, air-to-ground, all-day, all-weather capability. Christened the "Ráfaga Next-Generation Joint-Service Replacement", it was to fill the roles previously occupied by various specific platforms, including the AT-7 Chimango, Ilusión F1, Ilusión 2000, Ilusión 4000 in the National Air Force, and the Estela IV, AT-7 Chimango, and Super Estela in the National Navy.

SEPA was formally contracted to carry out the Ráfaga project in 1979, presenting four different blueprint prototypes by early 1981, ultimately defining the project as a delta-wing, single-tailfin fighter with canards. A technology demonstrator was slated to be produced ahead of time, with the intention to preempt the competing Tornado project from Pan-Wallasean Aerospace and tempt Arriyiñatos and Poláčekia to abandon their project once the initial project costs had been borne by Flamaguay. However, budget cuts and programme delays caused by the economic slump in the mid-1980s meant that technology demonstrator's first flight was set back to 1988, by which time the Tornado project was well underway. However, at this point the Ráfaga attracted interest from Saratovia, which was looking for an airframe of similar land and naval operational capability.

The Ráfaga C prototype flew on 18 August 1991, it was visually quite similar to the Ráfaga A demonstrator, but was radically improved, incorporating the new engines, a modern flight interface, a reworked fin, and radiation-absorbent material. [2]

Production began in 1997.

Design

A highly-agile fly-by-wire multirole aircraft with a reduced radar cross-section. Equipped with the IENA Fantasma radar jamming and deception avionics.

Operational history

Ráfaga Ms of the Armada Nacional.

Embrea

Embrea expressed interest in the purchase of up to 88 Ráfaga airframes as early as 2004 as a replacement for SEPA Ilusión 2000s in the front-line air superiority role. An agreement was ultimately secured in early 2012, with the Embrean government singing a contract for an undisclosed number of airframes, the majority being Ráfaga Cs. Two-seater variants were supplied from January 2016, with delivery of the remaining aircraft under current contract slated to end by 2025.

Flamaguay

The Ráfaga was declared operational in 1996, with a National Air Force squadron being equipped with 10 examples in an air-to-air configuration.

Regenmark

Regenmark was the first export success of the Ráfaga platform, with 130 airframes delivered between 2004 and 2010 to the Regener Navy.

Zavala

Zavala signed a letter of intent with SEPA in 2011 for the procurement of 160 Ráfagas. Zavala sought to replace its aging Ilusión IIIs and augment its stock of Ilusión 2000, which were to be reconfigured into strike variants. Delivery of 24 B models and 24 C models was completed by the end of 2014. Presently 150 aircraft are in operational service.[3]

Potential Operators

Poláčekia

The Poláček government has expressed interest in the Ráfaga as a replacement for its aging fleet of PAWA Red and Black kites.

Saratovia

Saratovia was the first foreign country to express interest in the Ráfaga, following the Ráfaga A technology demonstrator's first flight in 1988. No deal was signed, however, as Saratovia ultimately decided to adopt the PAWA M-4 Tornado still in development at that time due to its significantly lower operating costs. The M-4 replaced the SEPA Ilusión F1 and Ilusión 5 in Saratov service. As of 2018, Saratovia is again considering the Ráfaga in its strike/SEAD configuration as a replacement for its aging fleet of PAWA M-1 Black Kites.

Veraluca

Veraluca has declared its public interest to procure a new-generation fighter aircraft, originally establishing a tender for 60 airframes. A comprehensive Ráfaga package was been offered by SEPA in 2017, which has been well-received by Veralucan authorities. Unconfirmed rumors state that due to budgetary difficulties the Veralucan government cut the order to 48. No airframes have been delivered as of mid-2019, although a spokesman from the Flamaguayan Directorate of Foreign Affairs noted that "negotiations are well underway".

Variants

  • Ráfaga A: Single-seat technology demonstrator, three examples produced.
  • Ráfaga ET: Two-seat trainer variant.
  • Ráfaga B: Two-seat land variant.
  • Ráfaga C: Single-seat land variant.
  • Ráfaga M: Single-seat carrier-capable variant. The M model has a strengthened air-frame, with reinforced and lengthened landing gear. It features a larger tailhook and an incorporated foldable boarding ladder. The M weighs just under 500kg more than the Ráfaga C.
  • Ráfaga N: Two-seat carrier-capable variant.
  • Ráfaga R: Single-seat tactical reconnaissance version.
  • Ráfaga SS: Two-seat SEAD version.
  • Ráfaga E: Two-seat electronic warfare version. Currently in limited production.
  • Ráfaga F Program: The first major upgrade of the platform, it will upgrade RADAR, the capabilities of the helmet-mounted-display, incorporate a new targeting pod, and improve efficiency in network-centric warfare. Delivery is expected to begin in 2026.
  • Havørn J1: Regener Navy designation.
      • Havørn J1A: Two-seat trainer variant.
      • Havørn J1B: Two-seat carrier-capable variant.
      • Havørn J1C: Single-seat carrier-capable variant.

Operators

By May 2019, over 900 airframes have been delivered. [4]

Specifications

The IENA Búho 5000 AESA multirole radar mounted on the Ráfaga.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1-2
  • Length: 15.27 metres (50.1 ft)
  • Wingspan: 10.80 metres (35.4 ft)
  • Height: 5.34 metres (17.5 ft)
  • Empty weight: 9,527 kilograms (21,003 lb) (B)
    9,850 kilograms (21,720 lb) (C)
    10,600 kilograms (23,400 lb) (M)
  • Loaded weight: 15,000 kilograms (33,000 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 24,500 kilograms (54,000 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 x Clemtoni 'TV86' turbofan
    • Thrust: 65.04 kN each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 110.78 kN each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.0 (2,124 km/h)
  • Combat radius: >2,000 km (>1,240 nmi) on penetration mission with two CFTs (2,300 L), three tanks (5,700 L), two LO-ALCM and two AAMs.
  • Ferry range: 4,000km (with 3 drop tanks)
  • Service ceiling:19,400 metres (63,600 ft)
  • Wing loading:350 kg/m²
  • Thrust/weight: 0.988 (100% fuel load, 2x EM A2A, 2x IR A2A; model B)
  • Maximum g-load: +9.0g/-3.6g (+11g in emergency situation)

Armament

Avionics

References

  1. Ráfaga production-line analysis (web). Air & Space Defense Review - 10 March 2014; Retrieved 5 February 2016
  2. Ráfaga design reaches new heights. Aeronautic Manufacturing - January 1992
  3. The Zavalan Ráfaga option (PDF). Global Air Combat - 11 July 2012
  4. SEPA Ráfaga: Final decision for Veraluca? (PDF). Global Air Combat - 5 May 2018