Why is the Rafale F4 standard meeting such international success?

With the announcement of the firm order for 80 combat aircraft by the United Arab Emirates, The Rafale has become, with 242 aircraft ordered for export from 6 air forces, the greatest international commercial success of its generation, clearly outclassing other aircraft of the same category such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Super Hornet or the Su- 35, and even lighter devices of the same generation like the Swedish Gripen or the F-16 Block 70/72 + American Viper. In the world, only the Lockheed-Martin F-35, enjoying unwavering strategic support from Washington and an R&D budget 12 times larger than that of the French aircraft, does better than the French twin-engine, with more than 600 aircraft ordered internationally. However, this year alone will have seen Rafale orders soar, with 5 successive orders from 4 countries, for a total of 146 aircraft ordered, or 60% of total export orders recorded by the French aircraft.

This dazzling success and, if not unexpected, in any case highly hoped for, is linked to several concomitant factors, contributing to create a context and an attractiveness much more important than before of Rafale on the international scene. In the first place, this is linked to the very significant worsening of international tensions, and it should be noted that the vast majority of Rafale customers have an operational need that is both clear and immediate, as is the case India against China and Pakistan, Greece against Turkey, Egypt against Libya, Sudan but also Turkey, as well as the United Arab Emirates against Iran, but also in an intense competition with Qatar, itself support of Turkey and on good terms with Teheran. Of the 6 international Rafale customers, 3 are in a situation of high tension, and two in a situation of medium tension, only Croatia being less exposed at its borders than the 5 others.

The Indian Rafales play a central role in New Delhi's strategy against China, which suggests that an additional order would be possible in the short or medium term.

It should also be noted that of the 6 international customers who declared themselves in favor of the Rafale, 5 were already using French fighter planes, and this over several generations, and that they are still implementing their mirage 2000 today, on the 8 export clients in total for the last representative of the mirage family. There is therefore a very important factor that we could qualify as atavistic in the acquisition of combat aircraft, not only for the Rafale, but for many families of aircraft. This situation is not unfounded, since using an imported combat aircraft is largely to imbibe the doctrines but also the procedures of its country of origin, while developing close links with its aeronautical industry. defense for the maintenance and development of the fleet. It is therefore much easier for Mirage 2000 pilots and maintenance personnel to switch to Rafale than for personnel accustomed to American procedures on F-16 or F-18 to do this, and vice versa.


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