Crunch time for Rafale production rate?

In its proposed defence planning law for the six-year period spanning 2014 to 2019, the French defence ministry has proposed slashing its number of received Dassault Rafales to just 26 aircraft.

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).

Rafale line web

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.


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9 Responses to Crunch time for Rafale production rate?

  1. f-35 fotographer 8 August, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    I always confuse Rafale’s with F-35 JSF’s. Have a look at to compare :
    F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Pictures

  2. john 9 August, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    What are the odds of Taiwan getting Rafales? It seems unlikely but look at the fact that France needs to keep the line going and they are not ordering enough themselves to do it. India is already a competitor on the geo-political map with China. If it happens Tiawan would order hundred and end up with fleet bigger than France if its affordable enough. I think the French cutting their buying rate may make this possable. Who would have thought they would have sold Russia a “pocket” aircraft carrier. If no one else buys them in the next few years Taiwan may be their only hope.

  3. john 9 August, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    If EADS sells its holding in Dassault I would actually bet on this happening. Long odds but a good bet.

  4. john 9 August, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    Taiwan could also buy EADS share of the company.

  5. Robby 10 August, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Check the [french] news, sir , the french MoD clearly said that in case of export failure, Rafale deliveries will be reviewed to come back at 11 aircraft / year. So it is useless to speculate on the number of Rafale built, no matter what happens, nothing will change in the 5 coming years

  6. john 12 August, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    Sir a Taiwan sale would be an export success. A sale would allow the French to spend their money on other things.

  7. Craig Hoyle 13 August, 2013 at 1:35 am #

    John, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of a Rafale sale to Taiwan. Taipei has been after 66 new F-16s for a long time, and I can’t see it going elsewhere, despite any frustrations. Remember how much was written about Japan looking elsewhere when it wasn’t allowed the F-22? And then it picked the F-35. I’m not saying that Rafale’s not ready for export, but it really needs that Indian contract to get signed to encourage others to follow.

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