With the company currently delivering in the region of eleven Rafales to the nation’s air force and navy per year (that’s “one per month” in French industrial language, as the entirety of August is lost to holidays), the suggested reduction (which I reckon would cover a fraction over one aircraft delivery per quarter) puts even more pressure on Dassault to sign up some of its potential export customers for the type. India is the most obvious of these, but only a first batch of the expected 126 MMRCA units would actually be completed at the company’s Merignac site (Dassault image below).
This risks opening the usual can of worms between the pro-Rafale and pro-Eurofighter lobbies – along the lines of is one under-utilised assembly line any worse than having four of them – but could Dassault seriously sustain its line at such a limited rate if those international sales don’t come good? With the planning law having to be signed off by 31 December, it certainly doesn’t have much time to consider that dilemma.
On broadly the same theme, our colleague Dan Thisdell has just published an interesting analysis piece looking at a recent call from an EADS investor to consider divesting its more than 46% holding in Dassault. Don’t hold your breath for that one happening, he suggests.