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In the Dassault Rafale, how does the pilot maneuver the plane? I would expect to see a joystick centered between the pilot's legs. Instead, the Rafale has what appear to be two joysticks on both sides of the pilot. How does the pilot use these two joysticks to control the Dassault Rafale?

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The Dassault Rafale is one of the new generation of combat aircraft which have a side stick rather than a center stick for controlling the aircraft.

The Rafale follows the HOTAS concept- one where the buttons are placed on the throttle lever and the flight control stick allowing pilots to access vital cockpit functions and fly the aircraft without having to remove their hands from the throttle and flight controls.

There are two sticks in the Rafale cockpit on either side of the pilot. The one on the right of the pilot is the flight control stick and the other one is the throttle.

Rafale Cockpit

Image from freerepublic.com © Alex Paringaux/Dassault

The side stick controller on the right is connected to the aircraft computer and interprets the pilots input, which are then executed via various controls. The side-stick controller is force sensing with only a little travel, as can be seen in this video.

Rafale has a single throttle for both its engines- the left stick has more travel (compared to the other one) and controls thrust of both the engines through the computer. You can see both the sticks being operated in this video.

This type of arrangement is quite common in modern combat aircraft- both the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor use a similar arrangement- only difference is that in Rafale, the throttle and side stick look quite similar.

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  • $\begingroup$ Why not just call it a joystick? That's the term that immediately comes to mind when looking at it... $\endgroup$ – Sean Jan 12 at 22:50

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