New French order for the Rafale, which continues its modernization

Defense Minister, Florence Parly, announced a € 1.9 billion contract with Dassault and its industrial partners to develop innovations on the Rafale fighter jet on Monday 14 January. In 2023, the French army will command 30 new aircraft.

Trent Rafale additional will be ordered by Dassault for the French army … in 2023, for a beginning of delivery in 2027. It was the Defense Minister, Florence Parly, who made this announcement on Monday 14 January, on the occasion of a visit at the Dassault factory in Mérignac (Gironde), where the tricolor fighter plane is produced.

The Rafale, which initially took a long time to export, is manufactured alternately for the French army, sometimes for foreign clients – Egypt, Qatar and India, in chronological order of orders.

After three aircraft delivered to France in 2018, the three years that will open (from 2019 to 2021) will be dedicated exclusively to production abroad. France will be delivered again from 2022 to 2024, across 28 devices, from a previous order.

The thirty new aircraft will be delivered between 2027 and 2030. Meanwhile, Dassault hopes to find new customers, to fuel its charge plan in 2025 and 2026.

In the Rafale factory, an aircraft produced in France

A new generation standard

To put aside the chances of export, Dassault tries to keep the highest technical Rafale and modernize it. This is the reason why Florence Parly also announced a contract worth € 1.9 billion on Monday, 14 January, from the law on military planning 2019-2025 (with a budget of € 300 billion), to develop a new standard – the standard corresponds to a number of features – for combat aircraft. While the F3R standard is fully implemented in 2018, the F4 standard is now being prepared.

This is a " technological, industrial and strategic leap » for the benefit of French Aviation, says Florence Parly. This new version of the fighter jet assembled by Dassault proposes a device according to her "Of a quality never equaled", "Guarantee for our sovereignty".

Better to communicate

With the F4 standard, which will have reached its full development in 2027, Rafale will benefit from better connectivity to receive more data and communicate better with other Rafale, other fighter planes or ground equipment.

The next-generation Rafale will also be able to transport heavier materials, including the new 2,000-pound A2SM missiles, or new-generation SCALP and MICA missiles.

Detection against new threats

"The identification and the fight against threats will also be improved"Minister Florence Parly continued, with an advanced active radar for the antennas, as well as the SPECTRA electronic system and its blocking capabilities. The Rafale F4 will finally be more available thanks to a fault diagnosis system.

"The necessary strengthening of Rafale's skills is linked to both technological progress and feedback from the operational staff who constantly fights and expresses their needs and requires changes"explains Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation.

From 2500 to 5000 direct and indirect works

This new Rafale model, the result of collaboration between the producers, the DGA (Directorate General of Equipment), the personnel of the armies and the Department of aeronautical maintenance (DMAé), will allow "To make Florence Parly live, between 2500 and 5,000 direct and indirect jobs". From an industrial point of view, Dassault is concerned, but also Thales, Safran, MBDA and a multitude of subcontractors.

The transition from the current F3R standard to F4 will require "To strengthen teams in skills and numbers, we need to hire"Eric Trappier insists. The standard is evolutionary, that is to say that any new progress will be integrated as and when on the plane, without waiting for the totality of innovations to take place.

First step

These developments are a first step towards the Franco-German project led by Dassault and Airbus (Scaf), whose first study contract will be "Finalized starting this month of January 2019", announced Florence Parly.

The Scaf is designed as a complete system that combines a new generation fighter aircraft, existing planes still in service after 2040, future cruise missiles and teeming drones. It will be connected to plans, satellites, NATO systems and land and naval combat systems.

Marie Dancer (special correspondent in Mérignac)

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