Rafale: Now Drawing Fire At Home

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"Rafale: Now Drawing Fire At Home"
Posted by Robert Wall at 12/8/2011 5:19 AM CST

It is certainly Rafale's time in the crosshairs.

The French government is adding to the already huge pressure on Dassault to secure an export deal, warning the long-term prospects of the twin-engine fighter program may be at risk.

Speaking to the French press, defense minister Gerard Longuet warns that if there are no export orders, France could cease buying the aircraft as well. The discourse here.

France has maintained Rafale at a minimum production rate, effectively accepting a higher unit cost to keep the production line open and buy time for an export order to emerge (it also has helped keep the country's annual outlays low).

The defense minister's pronouncement comes after the United Arab Emirates already recently lashed out at Dassault for its stance in trying to negotiate the sale of 60 Rafales and days after Switzerland opted for the Gripen -- Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon were the losing contenders there.

For Paris, the failure to sell is, in part, so embarrassing because president Nicolas Sarkozy has made it his mission to secure the first export order for the only fourth-generation western fighter still waiting for an export deal. Brazil and India are both expected to make fighter decisions before France holds presidential elections, so all is not lost, yet.

Source:
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a2c4a46d2-a011-45cc-b304-757e1cc528d2&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest
 

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The 2008 Livre Blanc especifically calls for 300 combat aircrafts, French Navy included. Since money is so tight, the solution found a decade ago is to buy a hanful of Rafale every year, stretching the production well into the 2020 or beyond.
The origins of the Rafale reach as far as four decades ago, when the AdA wanted a twin jet fighter it could no longer (or ever) afford - Mirage G8 ? too expensive. Mirage ACF ? too expensive. Mirage 4000 ? even with help from the 2000, too expensive.
Then it is true that SNECMA and Dassault made a cooperation on the Typhoon impossible. It is also true that the Rafale had a couple of specific French requirement - nuclear strike and carrier ops - the Typhoon could not fulfill.
The rest is history...
I think the major mistake France did was not to continue the Mirage III / F1 / 2000 lineage - the Swedish way, Grippen style. The three machines above totalled 2800 aircrafts - 1400* Mirage III, 700* Mirage F1, 700* Mirage 2000.
Something broke with the Rafale - the machine is fine, but way too expensive.
 

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