"Too complex, too expensive, unsaleable", this is how Hervé Morin, then Nicolas Sarkozy's Minister of Defense, explained the poor sale of the Rafale on the international scene in the early 2010s. Today, however, with a new contract for the acquisition of 42 aircraft to be delivered from 2025 for the Indonesian Air Force, the French aeronautical flagship has reached a total of 284 export orders to 7 international customers, equaling in volume the exports of its predecessor, the Mirage 2000, 285 exported to 8 countries. This new contract, estimated at €7 billion, allows Team Rafale to confirm the exceptional results recorded in 2021 with 146 aircraft ordered by 4 countries, including 80 Rafale to F4 standard ordered by the United Arab Emirates alone, and positions the Rafale at the top of the hierarchy of modern twin-engine combat aircraft in terms of export, far ahead of the American F15 and F18, the European Typhoon or the Russian Su-35.
Unlike the Emirati and Egyptian orders, the Indonesian contract incorporates iterative and successive orders, this being linked to the operation of financing in Jakarta, so as not to have to go through a complex and difficult exogenous financing model. In other words, the Indonesian authorities have negotiated globally the acquisition of 42 aircraft, which will be ordered successively. However, and even if the first order only concerns 6 aircraft, it is not an option, but rather a global contract with orders and staggered payments, making it possible to secure both Jakarta and Paris. in this domain.
In terms of modernizing its air force, Jakarta has announced for several months that it intends to turn to the French Rafale, but also to the American F-15EX, two aircraft renowned for their great autonomy and their significant capacity for carry. In addition, the country is engaged with South Korea in the co-development of two programs, the T/F/A-50 Golden Eagle, a high-performance training and attack aircraft capable of carrying out air superiority over a reduced perimeter, and the KF-21 Boromae, the new generation fighter developed by South Korean industry, intended as a priority replacement for the F-16. In the end, Jakarta aims to increase its air force, which today has 33 F-16s, 11 Su-30s and 5 Su-27s, supported by 14 T-50s and 23 Hawk 200s, towards a homogeneous power of 170 devices composed of Dassault Rafale, Boeing F-15EX, and KF-21 Boromae, in order to be able to dissuade Beijing from any regional adventurism.
The Rafale contract was not the only agreement signed by Florence Parly and her Indonesian counterpart Prabowo Subianto. Thus, Naval Group and the Indonesian shipyards PAT have co-signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or cooperation agreement, relating to the possible acquisition and local construction of two Scorpene-type submarines. Technology transfer and financing negotiations will probably be long and complex around this potential program, but the French naval group is taking a serious option against its competitors to equip the Indonesian Navy with its submarines. In addition, a second MoU has been signed in the space domain, to provide Jakarta with a military satellite.
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