The Rafale Marine: a high-precision landing system

Messier-Bugatti-Dowty (Safran) has been involved in the Rafale, the omnirole Dassault Aviation fighter, since its creation. Here we take a closer look at the Rafale’s landing system, the most advanced on a carrier-based aircraft.

Capable of performing a wide range of missions in all weather, day and night, the Rafale is a true "force multiplier". Available in three versions (terrestrial two-seat, single-seat or navy), this versatile combat aircraft can operate from short runways or aircraft carriers. Messier-Bugatti-Dowty (Safran) has been involved in this program since it started more than thirty years ago and supplies all the landing gear, the wheels and carbon brakes, and the extension/retraction, guidance and braking systems of the three versions of the aircraft.

Having entered into service in 2002, the navy version of the Rafale is the most versatile fighter jet available today. Combining several aircraft in one, it is capable of operating both from the ground and from aircraft carriers. Its Messier-Bugatti-Dowty landing gear is considered the most advanced landing system for a carrier-based aircraft. Indeed, compared to the two-seater and single-seater terrestrial versions, the main and nose landing gear were strengthened to withstand the specific conditions of deck landing and catapult takeoffs. These modifications to the landing gear enable the jet to land on a very short distance (the aircraft carrier deck), but also to take off by being propelled by a catapult.

The nose gear of the navy version of the Rafale not only includes the catapult bar (and its operating system), but also "jump strut" technology in the shock absorber to give the plane an angle of attack during the catapult launch. One of the advantages of the landing gear is its maneuverability on the ground, as it is fitted with a wheel that can be rotated 360 degrees and turned to approximately 75 degrees from the cockpit.