The Air Force has as many Rafales in 2022 as it does in 2016. The observation of General Stéphane Mille, Chief of Staff of the Air and Space Force is definitive regarding the Gust fleet. “Our fleet of Rafale, the Army Air and Space Force’s only multirole combat aircraft, is at the 2016 level, and we have just closed a squadron equipped with the Mirage 2000-C. For high-intensity combat to be echoing at Europe’s gates, this situation must be of concern to us. Regaining thickness in terms of air superiority and power projection will require strong command of the aircraft necessary to achieve the 2030 operational ambition.”, explained on July 20 to the deputies of the Defense Commission of the National Assembly. And to indicate that fighter planes, “the cornerstone of our combat system”is his “main point of attention.
Resumption of deliveries to the Air Force
Why such a catastrophic record between 2016-2022? Dassault Aviation has not delivered a Rafale to France for almost four years (zero in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and one in 2022) in accordance with the military programming law (LPM) 2019-2025. The aircraft manufacturer delivered only one in 2017 and three in 2018. For six years (2017-2022), the Air Force has received 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 12 aircraft will be in 2023 for the benefit of the Croatian Air Force. At the end of 2016, the Air Force had fewer than 100 Rafales in its fighter jet fleet (98?). As of early 2019, the French armed forces had 143 Rafales in their fleet, including 41 Rafale Marines, according to the 2019-2025 LPM.
“The Air and Space Force has not received any combat aircraft since 2018”, confirmed General Frédéric Parisot, Major General of the Air and Space Force during his hearing in the Defense Committee of the National Assembly. French aviators will receive a copy at the end of 2022. Then 13 aircraft per year during the period 2023-2025. “METhere was a delay in the deliveries of aircraft ordered by France and not for export reasons, but for purely budgetary reasons Frenchrecalled Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier during the presentation of the semester results of his group on July 20. So the 4Q2 of 28 planes. (4Q2 segment, editor’s note), It’s been a long time since we should have handed it over to France and the At the request of the French authorities, it has been postponed and delivery will not begin until the end of the year in 2022 and especially from 2023, to which will be added the 12 aircraft to replace the 12 Greeks that have been carried in the French cylinder head And what will the 40th do?
Not enough Rafale in the Air Force?
During his hearing in the Defense Committee of the National Assembly, General Frédéric Parisot, Major General of the Air and Space Force, highlighted the point after the passage of the Head of State, commander of the air force. “When I joined the Air Force 36 years ago, we had 750 fighter jets but they were single mission.He explained. A Rafale, on the other hand, allows to fulfill the missions of several planes, although it is not endowed with ubiquity: a floor of 185 planes is probably too low; without a doubt we must aim for a minimum of 225 aircraft to be able to fulfill our missions with peace of mind”. Or 40 additional Rafale. What seems legitimate to monitor French airspace due to airspace congestion. “There are 14,000 air movements a day in France, the number of drones has gone from 400,000 in 2017 to 2.5 million in 2021”recalled General Frédéric Parisot.
But it is precisely the evolution of the international security context that requires, according to the Air Force, the reinforcement of its means. “Lhe hardening of the conflict translates into a challenge related to access to air and spaceHe noticed. Where before air superiority was acquired almost immediately, as in the Sahel or the Levant, now we face a challenge from the air power of the poor, even with positions of denial of access in the Mediterranean or Baltic space.. Attrition is now part of the equation for the Air Force, because the air superiority that was more or less acquired is now clearly in question. “With the Rafale, we are reaching a low point”, assured. By 2022, the Air Force is fielding 195 combat aircraft, including 102 Rafales.
“In the last ten years, no less than 98 fighters, 24 tactical transport aircraft, 60 helicopters and 335 drones have been shot down in the outskirts of Europe, long before the invasion of Ukraine, which confirmed the return of fighting. for air superiority”, recalled the Major General of the Air Force.
Given the format of the Air Force, General Frédéric Parisot asks the question, which challenges: “When will we have to choose between the protection of the vital interests of the nation, the integrity of its airspace, and the continuation of conventional combat?”. And argue that the Air Force should be in “the search for the right balance between the quantity and quality of the team, drawing all the lessons from the ongoing commitments, in particular from the war in Ukraine”. If a target of 225 Rafale Air seems more in line with current operational challenges and contracts, it does not appear to be realistic on budget. France unfortunately does not have the means. And even less so today with inflation expected to average 5.5% in 2022.
An order from France in 2023?
Pending a possible decision to increase the Rafale Air fleet, the Air Force requests confirmation in 2023 of a new order for 42 Rafales, delivered between 2027 and 2030. “MEIt is absolutely necessary to strengthen the order for the twelve Rafales sold to Croatia with a more global order scheduled for 2023, which involved thirty aircraft. (slice 5, editor’s note) and that it should be increased to forty-two Rafale Air, to be delivered between 2027 and 2030″explained the number two of the air force.
“However, this increase in the Rafale fleet to replace the Mirage 2000s will have to be accompanied by a significant effort in favor of air-to-air and air-to-surface missile stocks, as well as for so-called optional missile equipment that enables al Rafale fulfill their missions in terms of combativeness and survivability: radars, laser designation pods and acquisition of the ability to suppress enemy air defences”, General Frédéric Parisot also explained.
Dassault Aviation, which has advanced the transition to a rate of three Rafales per month, has this request. “We hope to have contracts for France. I hope that section 5 is signedunderlined the CEO of the aircraft manufacturer, Eric Trappier. It also has export contracts: “We believe that we are going to have other contracts that could go a little faster. Dassault Aviation is trying to enforce the 42 Rafale order signed by Indonesia and is targeting a contract by the end of the year in Serbia (12 Rafale), or even India (26 Rafale Marine). More than ever, the four-leaf clover, the true talisman of Dassault Aviation, has become the Rafale’s providence over time…
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