Stunning Pictures of the First three Rafale “omnirole” jets delivered to Egypt

The Egyptian Air Force has received the first three of 24 Rafale jets.

Egypt has received the first three Rafale jets during a ceremony held at Istres airbase, in southern France on Jul. 20.

The three Rafale DM (as the two-seaters destined to the Egyptian Air Force have been designated) represent the first batch of 24 “omnirole” combat planes sold in a 5.6 billion USD deal signed with Egypt authorities earlier this year.

The aircraft, that will be flown to Egypt on Jul. 21, will be used to reaffirm Egypt as a regional power as Cairo faces threats and instability both on its western border with Libya and on the eastern one where Islamic State groups are settled.

The deal with Egypt represents an important export success for the Dassault that eventually secured an order for 36 Rafales in India in April and also signed a deal with Qatar for 24 Rafale jets in May.

Egyptian Rafale breaking

Image credit: Dassault / A. Pecchi


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. What’s the difference between “omnirole” and “multirole”? For example, what can a Rafale do that an F-15E or F-14D couldn’t? (j/k, we all know it’s marketing.)

    • It’s not just marketing. The difference is the omnirole can change of mission inside a mission, during the same flight. A multirole can complete different kind of mission, but it will have to land between each kind to adapt the software or ammo to the new mission.

      For instance, a Rafale can complete in the same flight some recognising with a hight quality, “light” targets with it’s pod for himself and other planes, strike those target, and keep a no-fly zone to the enemy in the same time.

      It’s almost what they did when they entered first in Libya’s war with operation Harmattan. The plane took of from north of France, flight straight to Libya (with some refuelling), they entered the country at law altitude to not appear on the Libyan S300 anti aircraft system radars. They “light” those defences, shot a part themselves to free access for the second wave of aircraft which finished destroyed the rest of those targets. Then they stayed on the air to keep air interdiction against Libya’s fighters. You have a better description on this link The mission was about 9 hours… (pilots might have napkins ^^)

      There is no other plane can do so many different missions with a so hight quality at the same time for the moment…

      • Libya never had S-300’s. Also multirole planes such as the F-14D and F-16 can do the exact same thing as you mentioned.

      • “It’s not just marketing. The difference is the omnirole can change of
        mission inside a mission, during the same flight. A multirole can
        complete different kind of mission, but it will have to land between
        each kind to adapt the software or ammo to the new mission.”

        Yeah, both the F-15E and F-14D can do that. Come to think of it, the F/A-18 was doing that back during Desert Storm.

      • Multi-role does not imply having to change in-between missions. Maybe there is a definition that I’m missing, but an F-15E can do what you describe and more during a single mission. Probably semantics of omni vs multi.

    • I don’t think the Rafale’s software ability to adapt to all kind of missions justifies the name ‘omnirole’. What justifies this name is that in addition to the capabilities of other multirole aircrafts, the Rafale is aircraft carrier-capable, it has nuclear strategic capabilities, and it is designed to be quite stealthy (not to the level of an F-22, but they say its radar signature when carrying payload is about that of a sparrow).

      So the omnirole concept has more to do with the fact that the Rafale was designed to replace six different aircrafts for very different strategic roles, than with its in-mission versatility.

      If you compare it with the F-35 (said to be also a do-it-all plane, and besides the fact that the Rafale is not designed to ruin France’s government to the benefit of one arm dealer), which is more stealthy, as well as carrier-capable and nuclear-capable, the Rafale is a much better air-supremacy competitor.

      In a word, the Rafale is designed to be excellent in every kind of mission a combat aircraft can be designed for. But of course being excellent at everything, it is the best at nothing. It’s just the perfect do-it-all machine.

    • As you may know, in the late 1970s, the French Air Force and Navy were seeking to replace and consolidate their current fleets of aircraft. To do so they decided to build an aircraft capable of assuming all the 7 roles of the French aviation :
      – Interception and air superiority,
      – Close Air Support,
      – Deep Strike,
      – Air-to-Surface Strike,
      – Tactical and Strategic Reconnaissance,
      – Nuclear Strike,
      – Aircraft Carrier compliant,

      In addition you can add Air-refueling and Buddy-refueling capabilities, advanced Electronic warfare and Countermeasures systems, Data Fusion, and so on.

      The old fleet (Mirage 2000 and Super Etendard Modernisé) is slowly decommissioned. In the end, Rafale will be the only aircraft in use in the French Air Force and Navy.

      Now tell me the F-15E or the F-14D (the Super Tomcat was barely used before being replaced by the F/A-18 but whatever) can do the same and “Omnirole” is just a marketing stuff.

      US military decided to split it in two. In one hand you get the “perfect hunter” the F-22, in the other hand the “perfect striker” the F-35 (if they manage to do it right). They both perform very well in their specific field and have air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities. But no one equals Rafale in “omnirole” capabilities.

      Creating the Rafale this way was motivated by cost matters (not every country has US military budget). However Dassault engineers managed to build an incredible piece of technology and a fierce opponent to both allied and enemy aircrafts. Just remember this :

  2. The amount of “foreign aid” France contributed to Egypt in 2013 was $11,376. Million while the U.S. contributed almost 3X as much or: $31,545 Million. You would think that would have resulted in them buying at least a few F-16.

    • It also doesn’t help that the Obama Administration had to go and find its “principles” while Egypt is fighting it out with ISIS in the Sinai and cut off military aid.

  3. I wonder how many Egyptians could be fed for the fly-away price of ONE of those things. Let alone the maintenance costs. Let alone the cost of fuel and munitions.

    All this to keep the mighty air force of — Mali? Ethiopia? where? — at bay.


    • I wonder how many Americans could be cured, fed or have a housing for the price of ONE F-35.
      This question is the same everywhere.

    • all this to keep the mighty air force of Israel and by the way Egyptians have food we are not in starvation as you think

    • I would say the same. How many homeless people can have shelter for a price of an F-35. The United States would be far better if they spend the money of homeless people, medicare and education.

      Can you argue with that ???

      Kapish !

      • Always spot on, Nile.

        Besides, the US are not facing multiple wars on home soil, and do not face a risk of being destroyed as an independent country. Egypt does, and needs to be ready to avoid collapse.

        Also, Americans can’t understand Egypt’s need to have a plane and bombs they can drop without asking for somebody else’s approval, as is the case with US material.

  4. I give the French credit. They produce a great looking aircraft. Much more pleasing to the eye than the Typhoon. Nice balance between air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities too.
    Thanks for sharing some great shots of an impressive fighter.

  5. It’s unbelievable. They don’t have enough money to buy wheat to feed the nation, but they buy new fighters for 5.6 $… That’s military dictatorship for you. No wonder they have no money left for Sinai and everything there is blowing in their face.

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