15 January 2019

Defence: a new phase of development for the Rafale

The State is investing €1.9 billion to modernise the Rafale fighter jet.
During her visit to Dassault Aviation’s site in Mérignac on 14 January, the Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, announced funding for a new phase in the development of the Rafale. The aim: to ensure national Defence through cutting-edge technologies.

30 new Rafale fighter jets between 2027 and 2030

The French army will acquire 30 new Rafale fighter jets between 2027 and 2030. In Mérignac, the Minister for the Armed Forces announced the signing of a contract to develop the new Rafale model.

France Defence Minister Florence Parly"Safran, Thales, MBDA and Dassault, but also hundreds of SMEs, start-ups, and subcontractors, will see new work and orders as a result of this project", said Florence Parly following the signing of the contract. "In total, the F4 standard will lead to the creation of between 2,500 and 5,000 direct and indirect jobs", she added.

The F4 standard is the fourth development in the Rafale’s operational capabilities since it entered service. The Rafale is a combat aircraft which has been in service in the French Air Force and French Navy since 2002. It has been used in several military operations abroad, particularly in Afghanistan, Mali, Iraq and Syria. The Rafale F4 standard is the product of collaboration between industry groups, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA), the Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff and the Aviation Maintenance Department (DMAé).
The €1.9 billion armament contract with Dassault Aviation falls within the budget available under the Military Programming Law (LPM) 2019-2025, which aims in particular to prepare France’s future defence. Over this period, the Ministry for the Armed Forces has €300 billion to fulfil two missions: on one hand, to re-empower the armed forces for fulfilling their missions on a sustainable basis, and on the other, to prepare France’s defence for the future.

A technological, industrial and strategic leap forward

According to Florence Parly, “the F4 standard is a technological leap, an industrial leap and also a strategic leap forward”.

Indeed, this new phase in the Rafale’s development is based on four main pillars: firstly, greater connectivity to increase the aircraft’s data processing capacity.

Secondly, increased weaponry, with new or refurbished missiles. “It will be better armed, still in the aim of targeting and defeating our adversaries”, explained the Minister.

The third area of development: detecting and combating threats, in particular thanks to an active electronic scanning radar and the improvement of the Self-Protection Equipment to Counter Threats for Rafale Aircraft (SPECTRA).

The last pillar: ensuring the availability and operational readiness of the aircraft, through an improved engine and the introduction of the fault prediction and diagnostic aid system.

The new version Rafale also constitutes a first step towards the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). This Franco-German programme, led by Dassault and Airbus, aims to create a complete combat system combining new generation aircraft, drones, command and missiles.