Project Spirit Shield was a joint Osean-Aurelian program created in mid-2016 to test numerous body, avionics and weapons modifications to be implemented within the next twenty years.
Following the recent arrivals of innovative technologies, such as the ADF-01 FALKEN of Belka's Gründer Industries, Erusea's X-02 Wyvern and Estovakia's CFA-44 Nosferatu, the governments of both Osea and Aurelia realized that they needed more powerful weaponry to combat these threats. Despite that, there are problems in acquiring these kinds of technology, most notably in Osea where the peace efforts of president Vincent Harling prevailed and the situation of Aurelia's northern neighbor Leasath at the time. There is also the issue of funding to procure these so instead, the two countries decided to work on a research program to study potential upgrades.
To start the program, both governments were selecting an aircraft fit to accept the upgrades needed for the test. On August 9, 2016, it was decided that the aircraft of choice should be the Rafale M due to its supposed 'omnirole' capabilites. After that, work on the aircraft conversion began at Wilton Air Test Range in West Osea. The aircraft was extensively modified featuring a lightened and stronger airframe, more powerful engines and an array of modified avionics. The weapons were also modified due to the support of various arms manufacturers. The modifications were complete on March 18, 2017.
From March 28 to July 7, the plane completed a series of test flights, ranging from weapon systems to aerodynamics at the Wilton facility. It was also the first use of newly-acquired drones derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon models. After the tests, it was subsequently retired from active use.
The success of the program contributed to the upgrade of the countries' arsenals though it was more prevalent in Aurelia where the availability of prototype fighters allowed the country to experiment with the modifications. This contributed to the Aurelian victory in the Aurelian War. As well, Osea managaed to adopt them to experimental fighter squadrons such as the Warowl Squadron before seeing widespread use.
As for the research plane, it was rumored to have been acquired by a certain pilot during the events of the Dimensional Crisis of 2022 under the Aurelian Air Force. However, the plane was reported to have been greenlit for operational combat and further modifications were applied within that period.