Dassault Aviation has received a contract to produce a further 42 Rafale fighters for the French air force, via a so-called tranche 5 order.

Awarded by France’s DGA defence procurement agency “at the end of December 2023”, the deal was announced by the airframer on 12 January.

French air force Rafale

Source: Dassault Aviation

New order will add another 42 Rafales to the French air force fleet

France’s defence ministry values the deal at more than €5 billion ($5.5 billion), says all the aircraft will be produced in the single-seat (C-model) variant. The fighters will be delivered from 2027 in the F4 operating standard, but “be designed to evolve towards the F5 standard in the 2030s”, it notes.

“On behalf of Dassault Aviation and the 400 companies involved in the Rafale programme, I would like to thank the ministry for the armed forces, the DGA and the AAE [air force] for their renewed confidence,” says Dassault chief executive Eric Trappier.

“We are ready and determined to use our skills as prime contractor and complex systems integrator to serve the sovereignty of our nation,” he adds, noting that France’s “military industrial sovereignty is an exception in Europe” which “guarantees the superiority of our combat aviation”.

Trappier also describes the Rafale as “an asset for diplomatic influence and an economic strength in export trade”. In addition to its use by the French air force and navy, the multi-role type is also flown by the air forces of Croatia, Egypt, Greece, India and Qatar. Firm orders have also been signed with Indonesia – for 42 examples – and the United Arab Emirates, which will take 80.

Referring to its latest success, the airframer notes: “The [international] order book, plus the new ’tranche 5’ contract, secure production activity for the next 10 years.”

Cirium fleets data shows that the French air force today has 90 Rafale B/Cs in active service. A new F4.1 standard is in the process of being introduced, while work on a subsequent Standard 5 “is currently preparing for launch”, Dassault says.