what if Dassault opted for a single engine Rafale

helmutkohl

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What if Dassault produced a single engine "Rafale" aircraft?
Light single engine French aircraft have done generally very well on the export market, such as the Mirage 3, Mirage F.1, etc

in this case we have two scenarios

Scenario 1
Single engine chosen over twin engine design.
Deltafan provided a link where you can find the original single engine proposal and drawing for the Rafale before it transitioned to a twin.
it would still be flying with the M88 engine.
Rather than compete with the Eurofighter, this design potentially competes with the Gripen's market.
Perhaps it may enter service in the mid 90s or late 90s

Scenario 2
France goes for a mid-lo pairing. with Rafale AND a single-engined mini rafale
perhaps they simply bought the plan of the Novi-Avion (in which Dassault helped them), and proceeded to develop it on their own after the break up of the Yugoslavia
(similar to how Italy went their own way with the M-346 after assisting in the Yak-130).
This means perhaps less Rafales for France, and money diverted to a single mini Rafale


In either case
Had France made a single engined "Rafale"
- how much better or worse would it do on the export market
- in the case of Scenario 1, since it was not designed to compete with Eurofighter, but Gripen.. would this mean its development (both Eurofighter and mini Raf) enter service earlier?
development costs cheaper?
- could the De Gaulle carry more? Could it operate on the Foch/Clemenceau more easily since its smaller? (and perhaps would Brazil be operating it too?)

Left: Single engined proto Rafale
Right: Novi Avion, 2nd version by Yugoslavia. but had significant Dassault assistance

rafale-0002.jpg
novi_avion-74012.jpg
 
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SSgtC

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could the De Gaulle carry more? Could it operate on the Foch/Clemenceau more easily since its smaller? (and perhaps would Brazil be operating it too?)
For the first question, it depends. It's not just the number of engines, it's the rest of the specs. If this ATL Rafale was appreciably smaller than the OTL version, then yes, it would be theoretically possible for de Gaulle to carry more onboard. In practical terms however, you probably won't see any big change in the numbers of embarked aircraft. The CDG normally sails with 24 Rafale M fighters embarked, though 2 years ago, they managed to fit 30 on her plus helicopters and Hawkeyes. Could you fit another 6 airframes on her and still have the helos and AEW&C aircraft? That's more doubtful. Most likely, you'd see the smaller size used to embark more Hawkeyes and/or helicopters instead.

As for their use on the Clemenceau class, your guess is as good as mine. A smaller, lighter fighter could have replaced the Crusaders on them, but seeing as Clem was decommissioned in 97 and Foch followed in 2000, I'm not sure you could get your ALT Rafale to sea in time for them to see service on those two. Whether they could operate from Foch in Brazilian service, that depends on local politics in Brazil. The Brazilian Air Force fought hard to keep the Navy from flying fast jets, or fixed wing aircraft at all, really. They barely got the okay for A-4s.
 

Archibald

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wow thats unfortunate inter service rivalry over the operation of fast jets seems to be global :confused:
Yep. Not only USAF vs USN; but also Italy... and Brazil. And Great Britain in the 60's - TSR-2 versus Mountbatten, the horror, the horror (and both lost in the end, kind of - since both CVA-01 and TSR-2 were canned).

As for France, that conflicts has been settled since 1945 but before that... better not to think about it. The Army and Navy fought the AdA creation as a separate branch in 1933; as a kind of vengeance, the AdA used the Aéronavale as a dumping ground for its obsolete bombers, and by 1939 it looked like a flying museum.
 

Archibald

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As for a single engine Rafale... the AdA wouldn't want to hear about it. They already had the 2000, partially duplicating the F1 before it (IOC 1973 and 1984, both Super 530 interceptors) with the even older Mirage IIIs to remain in service until the beginning of the 90's. Adding a FOURTH single-engine type in a row ? no way.
-They wanted a twin jet heavy fighter since 1957 and the Mirage IVC
-They had tried AFVG, G4, G8, ACF and 4000 to no avail
-The 4000 was showing the way at least the general shape and what could be done with FBW-delta-canard

From my readings in the 90's aviation magazines when the Rafale struggled with post Cold War free falling military budgets - a single-engine Rafale would not have survived... the Mirage 2000-5 (IOC 1997). More exactly, a tentative upgraded variant with digital FBW and perhaps a boosted M88. It could even be navalized although that wouldn't be a superlative aircraft by any mean.
 

zen

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On a logical view, as with the UK. There is an argument to scale up these new turbofans and split the forces into a limited number of large twin engined strike aircraft and a large number of smaller single engined fighter attack aircraft.

The UK got as far as a series of engine proposals, mostly aimed at a supersonic Harrier/Jaguar successor. Because they were bogged down by the whole STOVL/PCB issue, the twin engined and politically European fighter was preferred. By the then arch europhile defence minister Michael Heseltine and continued to receive support under John Major.

From the French perspective this scaled up M88 would likely be aimed at replacing the M53 in the Mirage 2000.
Leaving the main focus on a Mirage IV successor.
 

Archibald

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RB199 and F404 were game-changers - medium-size turbofans resulting in medium-size, more affordable twin-jet combat aircraft: the Hornet (for all the hate it got) was a brand new category all by itself. Typhoon and Rafale very much followed a similar path. While RB199 to EJ200 relationship is well known - Rafale, Hornet and F404 got a more complicated love affair.
- the Rafale demonstrator in 1986 flew with F404s, the irony
- the Aéronavale fought hard to get Hornets on Foch deck circa 1988-89, to no avail
- Hornet was used as "placeholder" for Rafale when designing CdG (another irony)
 

helmutkohl

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RB199 and F404 were game-changers - medium-size turbofans resulting in medium-size, more affordable twin-jet combat aircraft: the Hornet (for all the hate it got) was a brand new category all by itself. Typhoon and Rafale very much followed a similar path. While RB199 to EJ200 relationship is well known - Rafale, Hornet and F404 got a more complicated love affair.
- the Rafale demonstrator in 1986 flew with F404s, the irony
- the Aéronavale fought hard to get Hornets on Foch deck circa 1988-89, to no avail
- Hornet was used as "placeholder" for Rafale when designing CdG (another irony)
I quite like the classic Hornet
a lot of people unfairly only looked it at as a fighter, but it was truly one of the first "omni" role aircraft from its early stages, and did the strike role much better than the other F teens in the 80s and probably early 90s.

As for the Aeronavale, I really did wish they get hornets.

Again an unpopular opinion but I still stand by it.
it seems that France and Dassault kept pushing new designs every half generation
M3, M5, F1, M2K, M4K, Rafale, etc

While I do think Rafale is probably my favorite of the Eurocanards, its really a 0.5 gen from the M2K (as M2K was a 0.5 from F1)
it may have been better in the long term that France skip this 0.5 and focused on a proper 5th gen airframe that would perhaps fly in the 90s and enter service in the 2000s. It would probably begin replacing the M2Ks around now as the F-35 is doing with the teens. The only downside is that the Aeronavale could not get its replacement for the F-8s and Entendards sooner. But now that I know the Aeronavale really wanted the Hornets, then even more likely a feasible plan.

I also don't get the support for all these past half generation iterations. but a single engine rafale (being a 0.5 single engined advancement from the M2K) suddenly doesn't warrant a half generation increment.
 

Michel Van

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there several issue with single Engine Fighter configuration
all ready during planning phase (proto Eurofighter) the Germans demanded twin engine
in mean time the French Navy demanded it also, so Navy jet could return save with engine out
something that work not well if you sit in single engine Fighter...

As Eurofighter began the French say good bye and leave the program
The reason were that Germans and British demands on Combat and electronic were to high
So far i understand were refusal by Germans for Navy version of Eurofighter, because to heavy and to much cost

The French build twin engine Rafale as AdA and Navy realized, it could Offer much more option as Single Engine Fighter
 

Lascaris

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As for a single engine Rafale... the AdA wouldn't want to hear about it. They already had the 2000, partially duplicating the F1 before it (IOC 1973 and 1984, both Super 530 interceptors) with the even older Mirage IIIs to remain in service until the beginning of the 90's. Adding a FOURTH single-engine type in a row ? no way.
-They wanted a twin jet heavy fighter since 1957 and the Mirage IVC
-They had tried AFVG, G4, G8, ACF and 4000 to no avail
-The 4000 was showing the way at least the general shape and what could be done with FBW-delta-canard
If you get AFVG/ACF/4000 to survive and enter service then a single engined Rafale makes a certain degree of sense IMO. Of course by the same token you can reasonably argue that the combined ACF/Mirage F1E makes starting down the path to Rafale around 1979 redundant and it's instead pushed down about a decade which turns it into developing a 5th generation replacement for Mirage F1E... which is likely single engined and has some passing resemblance to Rafale.
 

Archibald

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which is likely single engined and has some passing resemblance to Rafale.

Or Mirage 2000. With canards and a bubble canopy, unlike OTL. And yes, this starts looking like a single engine Rafale...
 

tomo pauk

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A single-engined Rafale will need a suitable engine - something like 120 kN initially + growth potential - lest it might've been better to modernize the M2000 (indeed the canards, better cockpit, better intakes, some low-observability features here and there...).
A resulting aircraft would've resembled the J-10 a great deal.

1-engined fighter will be cheaper to develop, make and fuel, and will be much cheaper to maintain. It will also be far easier to export (cue big export success of Mirages vs. meagre success of EF, Rafale, Lightning, or F-16 vs. F-18), that in turn makes it even more affordable to the country of origin due to the economies of scale. Serviceability rates will be better.

As it unfolded, F-16, Mirage 2000 and Grippen cornered the export market for the West-leaning countries between late 1980s and 2010-2015.
 

Archibald

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Mirage 2000 upgrade: get a M53-PX with 11 tons thrust. Replace analog with digital FBW. RDY-2 moving from PESA to AESA.
 

uk 75

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The F16 has certainly proved that a single engined fighter can find customers.
The Mirage III was the fabled mount of the Israelis in the Six Day War.
At the risk of highjacking this thread, an alt world in which France does not embargo Mirage V for Israel opens up many possibilities, one of which is a single engined Rafale.
 

BLACK_MAMBA

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As it unfolded, F-16, Mirage 2000 and Grippen cornered the export market for the West-leaning countries between late 1980s and 2010-2015.

Gripen has far fewer export sales than Typhoon or Rafale.
Gripen Export till 2015:
South Africa (26), Czech Republic lease (14 aircraft still ongoing), Hungary lease (14 aircraft still ongoing), Thailand (12)

EF export orders till 2015:
Austria (15), Saudi (72) & Oman (12)

Rafale export orders till 2015:
Egypt (24), Qatar (24)

Rafale achieved export in 2015 only... EF only in the mid 2000's really. Gripen had some earlier success, but limited in numbers. But, a comparison between them is rather poor in my view. EF and Gripen cater to very different markets as seen by their operators. Rafale is the mismatch in the middle of the two having some competition with Gripen for export however up untill 2015 Gripen had 66 aircraft not in SwAF service while Rafale only had 48 not in French service. EF dominating both with 99 mostly thanks to the large Saudi order.

In summary, Gripen 'beat' Rafale in export over the listed time period, And EF had one large order boosting its numbers. What does this all mean in the fictional world where a single engine Rafale might have existed? Diddly squat really... Potentially Dassault stood a chance in the smaller markets where M2000 usually lost to the newer designs as Dassault had most of their eggs and future investment in Rafale but as already mentioned a single engine Rafale was not what France wanted.
 

BLACK_MAMBA

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The F16 has certainly proved that a single engined fighter can find customers.
The Mirage III was the fabled mount of the Israelis in the Six Day War.
At the risk of highjacking this thread, an alt world in which France does not embargo Mirage V for Israel opens up many possibilities, one of which is a single engined Rafale.
Israel were always heading for the US with Phantom and F15 later. French competitors of the same class always lacked local orders making it unlikely that the IAF will take on all the risk. Their US competitors usually being more superior too.
 

H_K

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Would be interesting to have a thread on “What would it take to beat the F-16?” (Maybe there already is one!)

F-20 couldn’t do it.
Neither could the Mirage 2000.
Or the Gripen.
Not even the F/A-18 with twin engines, really.

So what would have to happen for a single engine Rafale to do well on the export market?
 

BLACK_MAMBA

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So what would have to happen for a single engine Rafale to do well on the export market?
The F-16 needs to fail really. The USAF's massive orders alone would make it more attractive financially. Politically is about the only sphere but then again you are competing with Gripen or Frances own M2000. Maybe the M2000 needed to have more investment technologically earlier to counter the F-16C family before it gained traction? That is about the only place I forsee someone one-upping the Viper.
 

SSgtC

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So what would have to happen for a single engine Rafale to do well on the export market?
The F-16 needs to fail really. The USAF's massive orders alone would make it more attractive financially. Politically is about the only sphere but then again you are competing with Gripen or Frances own M2000. Maybe the M2000 needed to have more investment technologically earlier to counter the F-16C family before it gained traction? That is about the only place I forsee someone one-upping the Viper.
Have the F100 have an even rougher development. More failures, more maintenence, less time between failures. This would delay the Viper while either the bugs are worked out, or an alternative engine is developed (F110 or TF41 maybe). The buggy engine isn't seen as being as big an issue in the F-15 because it has two of them for redundancy and safety, but the single engine -16 is pushed back long enough for other aircraft to steal some orders
 

Archibald

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The Mirage F3 with a M53-3 right from 1971 could have sold better. 700 Mirage F1s and 600 Mirage 2000s between 1972 and 2007 is no negligible number. Although 260 and 315 (575) of this went to the AdA proper, TBH. US commercial firepower is quite impossible to beat.
F-4 F-5 F-104 F-16 sold 2000 to 5000 +, as much as all 3 Mirages together (+1400 Mirage III derivatives).
 

BLACK_MAMBA

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The Mirage F3 with a M53-3 right from 1971 could have sold better. 700 Mirage F1s and 600 Mirage 2000s between 1972 and 2007 is no negligible number. Although 260 and 315 (575) of this went to the AdA proper, TBH. US commercial firepower is quite impossible to beat.
F-4 F-5 F-104 F-16 sold 2000 to 5000 +, as much as all 3 Mirages together (+1400 Mirage III derivatives).
Had the F1-M53 been available two years earlier I can see France fully skipping the M2000 family with the F1-M53 being mature enough by the mid-70's to steal a few of the F-16 European orders. I however forsee the Rafale trajectory as going ahead the same more or less as a twin engine design only with more difficulties as they now have little FBW unstable experience with no M2000/4000 in between. Still, US orders alone will still mean F-16 exports well due to perceived lower risk. Maybe even exceeding what actually happened as France now has no roughly equal option as even the F1-M53 will be stuck with its limitations ie no FBW even though in terms of weapons & avionics it will possibly end up equal to the eventual M2000 (the base F1 already could match the 2000 in weapons types by later variants).
 

Archibald

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F1-M53 is too late 1974 and an unwanted duck because Atar 9k50. F3-M53 can save three to four years, 1971, before the F-16 steamroller.
F3 was a scaled up earlier F1 that died of its TF306 US engine. Stick a M53 inside and from the beginning and voila, a better F1-M53 three years earlier. Get the Aeronavale & Belgium onboard in 1972 the Ada will follow.
Dassault could have put the 2000 analog FBW on the F3 or F1.
 

BLACK_MAMBA

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F1-M53 is too late 1974 and an unwanted duck because Atar 9k50. F3-M53 can save three to four years, 1971, before the F-16 steamroller.
F3 was a scaled up earlier F1 that died of its TF306 US engine. Stick a M53 inside and from the beginning and voila, a better F1-M53 three years earlier. Get the Aeronavale & Belgium onboard in 1972 the Ada will follow.
Dassault could have put the 2000 analog FBW on the F3 or F1.
That would require the M53 development to move a couple years earlier too... The F3-M53 combo really offers little timewise benefit compared to the F1. France tended to struggle to sell their bigger fighters - even Rafale had a very long period before any export success. The F1-M53 is thus a better bet in my view compared to the F3. It would however also require the M53 to be in flight testing by 1970 at least for the F1E to be a serious contender on the international market by 1974 instead of being a testbed.

Re FBW: High lift devices such as LERX & new wing designs would however be needed on the F1/F3 to make the aircraft unstable otherwise the analogue FBW will still offer limited benefits if not coupled with an unstable design such as the M2000, still limiting experience running into the Rafale.
 

tomo pauk

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In summary, Gripen 'beat' Rafale in export over the listed time period, And EF had one large order boosting its numbers. What does this all mean in the fictional world where a single engine Rafale might have existed? Diddly squat really... Potentially Dassault stood a chance in the smaller markets where M2000 usually lost to the newer designs as Dassault had most of their eggs and future investment in Rafale but as already mentioned a single engine Rafale was not what France wanted.

I'd advise re-reading of what I've post.
Namely, that F-16 + M2000 + Grippen together cornered the export market between late 1980s and 2015. A proper 1-engined Rafale (ie. it has an engine of 120 kN for the starters) can compete vs. F-16 and Grippen, and plus against EF Typhoon. Thus: Greece, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Oman, UAE, India, Czechia, Hungary, Brazil, Pakistan, Morroco, Austria, Norway, Indonesia, Taivan, Bahrain, Venezuela. All while still being in even better condition to be sold to the countries Rafale was sold by now, possibly in somewhat greater numbers.
 

BLACK_MAMBA

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A single engine Rafale in the F-16 class is still going to lose out to the cheaper F-16. Especially as the later F-16 variants became very competitive in terms of avionics fit. Besides that they already had the M2000 in that market. Rather upgrade the M2000 to a 120kN turbofan and more modern avionics with a digital FBW system by the mid 80's instead of the mid 90's. Rafale has a different set of requirements that drove it.
 

tomo pauk

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The 1-engined Rafale can offer anything the F-16 or M.2000, along with low-observability features and possibly better maneuverability. F-16 comes with a lot of political baggage, as seen by Taiwan, Pakistan or when Israel tried to sell their upgraded F-16; it was impossible for India to buy them until recently.

I'm all for the upgraded M.2000, however this thread is about the 1-engined Rafale. Part of the reason it was developed as a 2-engined fighter is/was the lack of suitable French engine.
 

Archibald

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Part of the reason it was developed as a 2-engined fighter is/was the lack of suitable French engine.

Yes and no. It is a bit more subtle than that. SNECMA finally got their heads out of their rear ends circa 1970 - first with TF306E & M53, then with... CFM56. Clever trick from René Ravaud: getting F101 tech via a civilian turbofan. It helped a lot.

My understanding is that SNECMA weakness was in the "hot" part of engines (whatever you call that in english).

Getting out of Atar was step 1. M53 solved that at least but pre -P2 variants of the 70's still sucked. (M53-2, 8200 kg of thrust: M53-5, 8500 kg of thrust).

Getting a more powerful M53 was step 2. M53-P2 solved that in the early 80's: 9700 kg of thrust, huge gain all too necessary for export and strike 2000s (2000N and 2000D).

Step 3 was getting a fully up to date engine, M53 was merely a "leaky turbojet". M88 solved that via a little help from F101 through CFM56.
But it ran straight into RR RB199 & EJ200 and resulted in the Rafale / Typhoon split (along with nuclear strike and naval requirements).

M88 was a bit of an oddity as it was a bit less powerful than M53, but its a red herring, because HORNET.
F404 being less powerful than F100 is not a shock to anybody. M88 and M53 are similar.

The M88 could grow as powerful as a M53-P2 and beyond 9 mt of thrust, it is just that this growth was never funded, not even today. Maybe someday.

And growing to 12 mt of thrust is not possible, because (once again) Hornet F404 / 414. Not F-15 / F110-129.

Trying to force SNECMA to built a 12 mt engine would have resulted in a F401 or TF30 epic scale disaster. They tried many times (Super Atar, Vulcain in the 50's) but went nowhere.

------------

The Rafale couldn't be single-engine because it had the last F1s (1992) and the 2000-5 (1997-2007) on its heels.

Also the Hornet (and MiG-29, for that regard) showed that twin-jets could be affordable if small turbofans allowed them to shrink in size... and cost.

Case in point: Australia and Canada would have been "rich" enough to afford F-15s yet went for Hornets because it had 75% of capabilities at half the cost and maintenance.

If you want a twin jet able to loft AIM-7 Sparrows, why bother with F-15s when Hornets offers mostly similar basic capability ? What's more, it was more agile and a smaller radar target.

------------

The usual issue with twin-jet French aircraft was
- Phantom: unaffordable for the AdA (Mirage IVC, 1958)
- F-111 or even Tornado: unaffordable (AFVG and G4 and G8, in the late 60's)
- F-15: unaffordable (ACF and 4000, 1970's)

So how was Rafale affordable then ? F-18 or MiG-29 style... can only happens with smaller engines. In the USA it started with J101 / F404 BUT the British had "small military turbofans" long, long before them... Adour, cough, M45, cough. Shared with Turboméca and SNECMA, respectively. But on the "wrong" airframes: Jaguar and AFVG.

Now imagine, had Sud Aviation been allowed to build F-5As under licence, and then created their own derivative with Adour first, then M45... how do you say Hornet in French ? Frelon. Bad luck, a chopper already stolen that name.

Back to single-engine Rafale: Mirage 2000 is already in the place. Even more the 2000-5 family.

OTL Dassault screwed the 2000 in... the mid-2000s (ha ha) because Rafale didn't sold until a decade later, Egypt 2015.

Last Mirage 2000 airframe was in 2007, for the Greeks.
 
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BLACK_MAMBA

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Back to single-engine Rafale: Mirage 2000 is already in the place. Even more the 2000-5 family.

OTL Dassault screwed the 2000 in... the mid-2000s (ha ha) because Rafale didn't sold until a decade later, Egypt 2015.

Last Mirage 2000 airframe was in 2007, for the Greeks.
Well written post Archibald. There were plenty of reasons for Rafale to exist in the configuration it does. There is no reason to build another M2000 type purely for the sake of some gains all while adding extra cost without much increase in capability.

I always felt Dassault played themselves by being so Rafale centric in the 90's and 2000's. Had they continued to invest in and push M2000 with engine and avionic improvements they still had the F-16 market to contest in well into the 2010's. Heck F-15's and F-16's are still selling today. No reason a well developed and refined M2000 couldn't compete for those who do not want the US type and the difficulties sometimes associated with it. The Rafale really competes for the medium fighter class market with Eurofighter and Super Hornet.
 

Archibald

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Problem for Dassault: they are a small company with little resources. no Lockmart or Boeing by any mean.

It is a deliberate move to stay "a family" because they don't want to grow too big, lose their soul, full control and efficiency - and be eaten by larger aerospace companies - in France and then in Europe.

That's their way of life since 1949. They have one research center in Paris and the plant in Mérignac, near Bordeaux... and basta. That's it. Two places, no more.

But it's a double edged sword, being so small.

By Lockmart standards they are insignificant. And their only other business are the Falcon bizjets... which are damn successfull (+4000 sold since 1963) but also vunerable to 2008 or 2020 crisis.

So Dassault deliberately stay small, but it is a risky business in the present aerospace world.

When Falcons are hit by a business crisis, and Rafale don't sold... it hurts. A lot.
In fact they survive by being a "crown jewel" in the eye of the French Government: one of the few companies in the world mastering the art of combat aircraft from A to Z.
If Dassault sinks, France lose that capability since Aérospatiale (public) has long diluted into EADS, then Airbus... and bits of Typhoon.

Drats, last non-Dassault combat aircraft was the Jaguar (Breguet and the British) and the Vautour (SNCASO : Sud Aviation - Aérospatiale - EADS now Airbus).
In fact they were the one and only two non-Dassault, post 1945. Front line combat jets, I mean.

So allow me to say that Dassault survives by grasping the french government by... their testicles.

They can't be allowed to die. "Too small to fail" kind of - the opposite end to Boeing "too big to fail".

The Rafale not selling for 15 years cause immense trouble in Mérignac. The last 2000s and Falcons filled the gaps, but at some point, the 2000 had to go to free export markets for Rafale.

Turning point was 2006 and India's MRCA, really. Started with the 2000-9 (including dumping the old production to India !) then shifted to Rafale.
 
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H_K

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According to here they are currently around the 34th top aerospace company in the world.
That list is a grab bag of defense companies, many of which have nothing to do with aircraft manufacturing.

The actual aircraft manufacturers on that list… Dassault is in the Top 10.

AVIC
Lockheed Martin
Boeing
Airbus
General Dynamics (not really… but for Gulfstream)
Northrop Grumman
BAE Systems
Leonardo
Textron
Dassault


Maybe missing a handful… maybe some Japanese companies? (But they don’t produce a lot of complete planes)
 

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That list is a grab bag of defense companies, many of which have nothing to do with aircraft manufacturing.
An aerospace company is not just one that manufactures complete aircraft. For instance, you have left off Raytheon Technologies form your list which is at No. 2 position on the earlier list. They include the likes of Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace, both of which have extremely significant contributions in the aerospace field.
 
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