New French order for the Rafale, which continues its modernization

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

Additional Trent Rafale will be ordered from Dassault for the French Army ... in 2023, for a start of delivery in 2027. It was the Minister of Defense, Florence Parly, who made this announcement Monday, January 14, on the occasion of a visit to 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 customers - 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 devoted exclusively to production abroad. France will be delivered again from 2022 to 2024, 28 devices in total, from a previous order.

The thirty new planes will be delivered between 2027 and 2030. In the meantime, Dassault hopes to find new customers, to feed its plan of charges on 2025 and 2026.

In the Rafale factory, a plane made in France

A new generation standard

To put the odds on its side to export, Dassault seeks to maintain the highest technical Rafale, and modernize. This is the reason why Florence Parly also announced Monday, January 14 a contract of 1.9 billion euros, from the military programming law 2019-2025 (with a budget of 300 billion euros) , in order to develop a new standard - the standard corresponds to a series of features - for the combat aircraft. While the F3R standard is fully implemented in 2018, the F4 standard is now in preparation.

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

Better communicate

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

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

Detection against new threats

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

"The necessary reinforcement of the Rafale's capabilities is linked to both the technological progress and the feedback from the operational staff who are constantly fighting and expressing their needs and demanding changes"explains Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation.

2500 to 5000 direct and indirect jobs

This new Rafale model, the result of a collaboration between the manufacturers, the DGA (Directorate General of Armament), the staffs of the armies and the Aeronautical Maintenance Department (DMAé), will allow "To make live, assured Florence Parly, between 2500 and 5000 direct and indirect jobs". On the industrial side, Dassault is concerned, but also Thales, Safran, MBDA and a multitude of subcontractors.

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

First stage

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

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

Marie Dancer (special correspondent at Mérignac)