Four blimey: Rafale half-year deliveries

I didn’t make it to Dassault’s half-year results briefing in Paris today, but there are a few interesting items for all to see within the company’s media material from the event, which is now available online.

Firstly, only a combined four Rafales were delivered to the French air force and French navy in the first six months of this year (for a total of 108 so far built), versus six handed over during the same period in 2011.

The company says it still expects to deliver “around 11″ of the type (Dassault file shot below of aircraft on its Merignac assembly line) this year, and that “defence net sales showed an upturn of 2%, due to an increase in support and development activities.”

Rafale 560.jpgChief executive Charles Edelstenne used fighting talk when referring to Team Rafale’s victory in India’s medium multi-role combat aircraft contest (where it beat the Eurofighter Typhoon), but noted that it must still close out negotiations on the 126-aircraft deal.

“The Indian choice, on technical, operational and financial criteria, confirms the Rafale superiority as soon as the influence of the United States is not the criteria,” he says in a statement. Great stuff; especially as it reminds me of Dassault’s response on losing a South Korean competition to the Boeing F-15 a few years ago, when it cited a Chinese proverb which states that “bamboo always leans the way it’s pushed the hardest.”

Edelstenne also commented on the Dassault-led Neuron unmanned combat air vehicle technology demonstration programme. This had been scheduled to achieve its first flight around mid-year (Dassault image below), but this milestone is now described only as set to happen “in 2012″.

Neuron 560.jpgHis bullish comment that “Neuron has no equivalent in Europe” is likely to raise eyebrows in the UK, where the French company’s partner BAE Systems is getting ready to fly the UK’s Taranis air vehicle in the early part of 2013.

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