Rafale order from UAE could lead to new short-term contracts

La order for 80 Rafale aircraft signed last Friday by the United Arab Emiratesits profoundly upset the industrial dynamic around the French combat aircraft, by securing the durability and production of the assembly line over the next ten years, and by placing the Rafale and the F35 on an equal footing, Abu Dabi having confirmed that he was still determined to acquire the 50 American fighter planes from Lockheed-Martin to evolve alongside the new French plane. But this order also puts under pressure several partners from France, who had indicated a potential intention to order the aircraft, while the production line of Merignac will pass in the coming months a production rate of 3 planes per month. , considered as the upper limit thereof. Indeed, several countries, such as Qatar, Egypt, India or Indonesia, are currently in talks with Dassault Aviation, Team Rafale and the services of the French State, for possible additional orders. .

Qatar was the second customer to order the French fighter plane in 2015, shortly after Egypt. The 24 aircraft initially ordered were supplemented in 2017 by the lifting of an option for 12 additional aircraft, as well as the modernization of the entire fleet to the F3R standard. On this occasion, Doha also took a new option, this time on 36 additional aircraft. At the same time, the small gas state ordered 24 Eurofighter Typhoons and 36 F-15QAs to complete its fighter fleet, which then left France little hope of seeing this option come true. The situation is now quite different with the order of the 80 Rafale Emirati, Abu Dabi being the main geopolitical competitor of Doha in the Persian Gulf. In fact, Doha could quickly be tempted to place an additional order by lifting the option of 36 aircraft. to standard F4, so as to align 72 Rafale in a fleet of 132 modern combat aircraft, that is to say as many as the 130 Rafale and F35 targeted by the UAE.

Qatar still has an option on 36 additional Rafale, an option that could be lifted on the altar of the competition between Doha and Abu Dabi in the Persian Gulf

For Cairo, the interest in the F4 standard had been clearly announced even though the country ordered 30 additional Rafale last spring, with the stated objective of eventually operating a fleet of 80 aircraft of this type. For the Egyptian air forces, which also use American F-16s but also Russian Mig-29s and Su-35s, the Rafale is of double interest. In the first place, it makes it possible to communicate both with American platforms and with Russian platforms, France being less rigid than the United States in this area. Secondly, due to the acquisition of Russian equipment, and in particular Su-35 and Mig-29 fighters, Cairo knows that it is fully excluded from the possibility of acquiring the American F-35 in the short or medium term, and the Rafale, in its F4 version, offers precisely capabilities comparable to that of the American aircraft.

India is also one of the most serious prospects for Dassault Aviation, and this on several levels. First, the Indian air forces urge New Delhi to urgently order a second batch of 36 Rafales, in order to complete the two squadrons being formed with the first 36 aircraft ordered, and the delivery of which is almost entirely carried out. Indeed, these devices are now a critical tool in the hands of the Indian Air Force, to respect their Chinese and Pakistani counterparts which, too, are modernizing with great strides, with the arrival of very modern devices such as the J-20 or the JF-17 BlockIII. At the same time, the French plane is engaged in a competition against the American Super Hornet to equip future Indian aircraft carriers, while participating in the MMRCA 2 competition which involves the acquisition of 114 light or medium devices in local production.

The Indian Air Force continues to call for a second order for 36 Rafale to strengthen its capabilities against the Pakistani and Chinese air forces.

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