The Air Force has as many Rafales in 2022 as it had in 2016. The observation of General Stéphane Mille, Chief of Staff of the Air and Space Forces, is definitive as far as the Gust fleet is concerned. “Our Rafale fleet, the Air and Space Force’s only multirole fighter, is as of 2016 and we just retired a squadron equipped with Mirage 2000-Cs. So with these high-intensity fighting echoing at the gates of Europe, we must be concerned about this situation. Restoring strength in terms of air superiority and force projection will require assured command of the aircraft required to achieve the 2030 operational goal., he told deputies of the National Assembly’s Defense Committee on July 20. And to indicate that fighter planes, “The cornerstone of our combat system”is his “main focus”.
Resumption of deliveries to the Luftwaffe
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). The aircraft manufacturer delivered just one in 2017 and three in 2018. Over six years (2017-2022), the Air Force will only receive five Rafales. At the same time, 12 Luftwaffe aircraft were brought to Greece for second-hand delivery (six in 2021 and six in 2022). Then 12 aircraft will be deployed in 2023 in favor of the Croatian Air Force. At the end of 2016, the Air Force had fewer than 100 Rafales in its fighter fleet (98?). In 2016 it had received six. As of early 2019, under the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law (LPM), the French Armed Forces had 143 Rafales in their fleet, including 41 Rafale Marines.
“The Air and Space Force has not received a fighter jet since 2018”, confirmed General Frédéric Parisot, Major General of the Aerospace Forces, during his hearing before the Defense Committee of the National Assembly. French aviators will receive a copy at the end of 2022. Then 13 aircraft per year over the period 2023-2025. “IDeliveries of aircraft ordered by France were delayed, and not for export reasons, but for purely budgetary reasons Frenchrecalled Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier at the presentation of his group’s half-year results on July 20. So the 4T2 of 28 aircraft (cut 4T2, editor’s note), It’s been a long time since we should have shipped it to France and the United States At the request of the French authorities, it has been postponed and will only begin deliveries at the end of 2022 and more specifically from 2023, to which will be added the 12 replacement aircraft for the 12 Greeks received French stock and which will make the 40″.
Not enough Rafale in the Air Force?
During his hearing before the Defense Committee of the National Assembly, General Frédéric Parisot, Major General of the Aerospace Forces, made the point after the departure of the head of state – Major General of the Air Force – very clear. “When I joined the Air Force 36 years ago, we had 750 fighter jets, but they were single missionshe explained. A Rafale, on the other hand, makes it possible to fulfill the missions of several aircraft, although not endowed with ubiquity: a floor of 185 aircraft is probably too low; Undoubtedly, we should aim for at least 225 aircraft in order to be able to carry out our missions with peace of mind.. Or 40 additional Rafale. Which seems legitimate to monitor French airspace due to airspace congestion. “In France there are 14,000 aircraft movements per day, the number of drones has increased from 400,000 in 2017 to 2.5 million in 2021”recalled General Frédéric Parisot.
But it is in fact the evolution of the international security context that the Air Force believes requires an increase in its resources. “LThe intensification of the conflict creates a challenge in terms of access to air and spacehe noticed. Where previously air superiority was gained almost immediately, as in the Sahel or the Levant, we are now dealing with a struggle of poor air power, even with attitudes of denial of access in space. Mediterranean or Baltic Sea.. Attrition is now part of the Air Force equation, with more or less acquired air superiority now clearly in dispute. “With Rafale we’re going to hit rock bottom”, he assured. In 2022, the Air Force will field 195 fighter jets, including 143 Rafales.
“In the last decade, no fewer than 98 combat aircraft, 24 tactical transport aircraft, 60 helicopters and 335 drones were shot down on the outskirts of Europe, well before the invasion of Ukraine, which confirmed the return of fighting and air superiority,” recalled the Air Force Major General .
Given the size of the Luftwaffe, General Frédéric Parisot asks what challenges: “When will we have to choose between protecting the nation’s vital interests, the integrity of its airspace, and continuing conventional combat?”. And to argue that the Air Force should be there “Finding the right balance between quantity and quality of equipment, while drawing all the lessons from ongoing engagements, particularly the war in Ukraine”.
An order from France in 2023?
In anticipation of a possible decision to increase the Rafale Air fleet, in 2023 the Air Force is requesting confirmation of a new order for 42 Rafale to be delivered between 2027 and 2030. “IIt is imperative that we reinforce the order for the twelve Rafales sold to Croatia with a more global order planned for 2023, which will include thirty aircraft (Slice 5, editor’s note) and that should be increased to forty-two Rafale Air to be delivered between 2027 and 2030.explained the number two in the Air Force.
“However, this increase in the Rafale fleet to replace the Mirage 2000 must be accompanied by a significant effort in favor of stocks of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as the so-called optional missile equipment that will allow the Rafale to carry out its missions in in terms of combat capability and survivability – radar, laser targeting pods and acquiring the ability to suppress enemy air defenses,” General Frédéric Parisot also stated.
Dassault Aviation, which anticipated transitioning to a rate of three Rafales per month, anticipates that order. “We are hoping for orders for France. hope that tranche 5 will be signed”underlined the CEO of the aircraft manufacturer, Eric Trappier. It also counts on export contracts: “We think we will have different contracts could go a little faster”. Dassault Aviation is trying to push through the order signed by Indonesia for 42 Rafale and is aiming for a contract in Serbia (12 Rafale) or even India (26 Rafale Marine) by the end of the year. More than ever, the four-leaf clover, a true talisman of Dassault Aviation, has become the providence of the Rafale over time…