The Rafale is getting a little closer to Serbia

If the year 2023 has started for the French Rafale on the Colombian false start, the outlook for the French aircraft, whether on the export market or on the national market, are at the very least promising at the start of the year. Thus, a few days ago, the Indian Navy officially announced that it considered that the Rafale M suited its needs and operational constraints better than its competitor, the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet proposed by the American Boeing. If other factors, in particular political ones, can still come to interfere with this contract relating to 26 apparatuses, the chances to see this last materializing this year are from now on very important, whereas an official visit of Emmanuel Macron in India is in preparation, and that other subjects of cooperation, in particular in the field of civil nuclear energy but also submarines, are in discussion between Paris and New Delhi.

Another Dassault Aviation fighter export contract could also materialize in the weeks or months to come. On the occasion of his visit to the IDEX 2023 exhibition being held this week in Abu Dhabi, the Serbian President, Alexandar Vucic, indeed indicated that the negotiations with Russia about the potential acquisition of MIG-29 to replace aircraft in service with the Serbian air force, had been abandoned, and thata formal request would be sent to France for the acquisition of a dozen Rafales in the days to come. In previous statements on this subject, a total amount of €3 billion had been mentioned for this contract, including the devices as well as the simulators, spare parts, armaments and training essential to implement these devices properly. more modern than the MIG-29SMs and Soko J-11s currently in service. To this end, President Vucic indicated that an additional budget of $700m would be added to the country's defense budget of $1,5bn this year, which suggests a rapid conclusion of the agreement.

Belgrade wants to replace its MIG-29SM whose maintenance has become expensive and complex, according to the Serbian authorities

For the Serbian president, who is historically close to Vladimir Putin, it was a decision that was all the more difficult as the war in Ukraine had fueled tensions and expectations on both sides. Candidate for the European Union, Serbia would indeed have had a lot of trouble justifying the acquisition of Russian fighters, even if they were much more economical than European fighters. Moreover, it seems that Russian industry is now struggling to supply its export customers with spare parts, being largely devoted to supporting the Russian forces engaged in Ukraine. Finally, it is likely that the performance of Russian aviation in Ukrainian skies, even if it has improved significantly in recent weeks, has probably cast doubt on the effectiveness of Russian weapons systems, and more particularly of its fighter planes. Not that the Mig-29 is in itself a bad device, but it is only worth the systems and ammunition it carries, and its ability to evolve in a contested environment, two areas in which the Russian light fighter does not has hardly shown exceptional qualities since February 24.

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