Air Force begs to benefit from fleet of 225 Rafale (instead of 185)

The Air Force will have as many Rafale in 2022 as in 2016. The observation of General Stéphane Mille, Chief of Staff of the Air and Space Force is the last about the fleet Gust. “Our fleet of Rafale, the only multipurpose combat aircraft of the Air and Space Force, is at the level it was in 2016, and we have just closed a squadron with the Mirage 2000-C. the gates of Europe, this situation should worry us. The recovery of the thickness in terms of air superiority and power projection will require a strong command of the aircraft necessary to achieve the operational ambition of 2030 “, he explained on July 20 to the deputies of the Defense Committee of the National Assembly. And to show that the fighter aircraft, “the cornerstone of our combat system”his main point of attention”.

Continuation of Air Force deliveries

Why such a disastrous record between 2016-2022? Dassault Aviation has not delivered a Rafale to France in almost four years (zero in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and one in 2022). The aircraft manufacturer delivered only one in 2017 and three in 2018. For six years (2017-2022), the Air Force will receive only five Rafales. At the same time, 12 Air Force aircraft were taken for second-hand delivery to Greece (six in 2021 and six in 2022). Then the 12 aircraft will be in 2023 for the benefit of the Croatian Air Force. At the end of 2016, the Air Force had less than 100 Rafales in its fleet of fighter planes (98?). It received six in 2016. At the beginning of 2019, the French armed forces have 143 Rafales in their fleet, including 41 Rafale Marines, according to the military programming law (LPM) of 2019-2025.

“The Air and Space Force has not delivered any fighter aircraft since 2018”, confirmed by General Frédéric Parisot, Major General of the Air and Space Force during his hearing of the Defense Committee of the National Assembly. The French airmen will receive a copy at the end of 2022. Then 13 planes per year in the period 2023-2025. “I amThere is a delay in the delivery of the aircraft ordered in France and not for export reasons, but only for budgetary reasons. Francerecalled CEO of Dassault Aviation Eric Trappier during the presentation of his group’s half-year results on July 20. So the 4T2 of the 28 aircraft (slice 4T2, editor’s note), It would have been a long time since we delivered to France and the at the request of the French authorities, it has been postponed and it will not start to be delivered until the end of the year in 2022 and especially from 2023, where will be added 12 replacement planes for the 12 Greeks acquired in the French stock and that will make 40″.

Not enough Rafale for the Air Force?

During his hearing of the Defense Committee of the National Assembly, General Frédéric Parisot, Major General of the Air and Space Force, drove home the point after passing the Head of State-air force major. “When I joined the Air Force 36 years ago, we had 750 fighter planes but they were one mission.he explained. A Rafale, on the other hand, makes it possible to fulfill the missions of many aircraft, although it is not endowed with ubiquity: a floor of 185 aircraft may be too low; there is no doubt that we should aim for a minimum of 225 aircraft to be able to carry out our missions calmly”. Or 40 more Rafales. That it seems legitimate to monitor French airspace because of air congestion. “There are 14,000 air movements per day in France, the number of drones increased from 400,000 in 2017 to 2.5 million in 2021”recalled General Frédéric Parisot.

But it is actually the evolution of the context of international security that requires, according to the Air Force, the strengthening of its methods. “Lthe hardening of the conflict translates into a challenge related to access to air and spacehe said. Where, in the past, air power was obtained almost immediately, such as in the Sahel or the Levant, we are now faced with a contradiction in the air power of the poor, even in the postures of denying access to space. Mediterranean or Baltic”. Attrition is now part of the equation for the Air Force, as air superiority is more or less earned, clearly contested. “With the Rafale, we have reached a low point”, he assured. By 2022, the Air Force is implementing 195 fighter planes, including 143 Rafale.

“In the last ten years, no less than 98 fighters, 24 tactical transport planes, 60 helicopters and 335 drones have been shot down outside Europe, long before the invasion of Ukraine, which came to confirmation of the return of battles for. the air superiority”, recalled the major general of the air force.

Given the format of the Air Force, General Frédéric Parisot asked the question, challenging: “When do we have to choose between protecting the vital interests of the country, the integrity of its airspace and the continuation of conventional combat?”. And to argue that the Air Force should be in “The search for the right balance between the quantity and quality of the equipment, taking all the lessons from the ongoing conflicts, especially from the war in Ukraine”.

An order from France in 2023?

Pending a possible decision to increase the Rafale Air fleet, the Air Force requested the confirmation in 2023 of a new order for 42 Rafale, to be delivered between 2027 and 2030. “I amwe must strengthen the order for the twelve Rafale sold to Croatia with a more global order scheduled for 2023, which includes thirty aircraft (slice 5, editor’s note) and that should be increased to forty-two Rafale Air, which will be delivered between 2027 and 2030 “explained the number two of the air force.

“This development of the Rafale fleet to replace the Mirage 2000s must be accompanied by a significant effort in favor of stocks of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, as well as for the so-called optional equipment. which allows the Rafale to fulfill its missions. in terms of combativeness and survivability – radar, laser designation pods and acquiring the capability to suppress enemy air defense”, General Frédéric Parisot also explained.

Dassault Aviation, which expects to move at a rate of three Rafales per month, is counting on this order. “We hope to have contracts for France. hopefully tranche 5 will be signed”lined up to CEO of the aircraft factory, Eric Trappier. It also counts export contracts: “We think we have other contracts that be a little faster”. Dassault Aviation is trying to implement the order for 42 Rafale signed in Indonesia and intends to have a contract at the end of the year with Serbia (12 Rafale), or even with India (26 Rafale Marine). More than ever, the four-leaf clover, a true talisman of Dassault Aviation, has over time become the providence of the Rafale…