The new NARANG (NAcelle de RAvitaillement Nouvelle Génération) pod is based on the existing “Intertechnique” IN234000 refueling pod. It has been modified to increase the fuel transfer rate (to a value between 750L/min and 1000L/min), improve its behavior during in-flight refueling and lighten technical support thanks to an integrated maintenance system.
Thanks to the refueling pod, a Rafale M fighter can be reconfigured for “buddy tanking” other aircraft. This allows the carrier air wing to extend the range of its strike aircraft. In other cases, using the buddy store method allows a carrier-based aircraft to take-off with a heavier than usual load, the aircraft then being topped-up before conducting its mission. The U.S. Navy is doing the same with its F/A-18 Super Hornets but is looking to use an unmanned aircraft for this support mission in order to dedicate its fighters to combat missions. For the record, the future E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes of the French Navy will be refueled by the Rafale M with the NARANG pod.
Thanks to this IOC, the NARANG may now be used in operation. They will be part of the equipment of the Rafale marine F3-R during the next deployment of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. The French Navy Carrier Strike Group (CSG) will soon head back at sea, sailing to the Eastern Mediterranean And Indian Ocean.
About Rafale M F3-R Fighter
The new Rafale F3-R standard brings new capabilities in the areas of intelligence, communication, engagement and command. If the integration of the Meteor long-range missile and the new generation Talios laser designation pod are the major innovations, other developments (mainly software) translate into a further evolution of the aircraft.
The F3-R standard also includes the installation of an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS) and various improvements to the RBE2 radar, the Spectra electronic warfare system, the Reco NG pod and the inertial navigation system.
The Marine Nationale took delivery of its first Dassault Rafale M fighter upgraded to the F-3R standard in December 2018. The first unit to deploy the new Rafale M standard is the “Flotille 11F” squadron. The first operational mission of a Rafale M F3-R took place in January 2020 over Syria.