The drive toward making the Dassault Rafale the backbone of the French Air Force's front-line fighter capability was given a boost yesterday when French Air Defence commander General Jean-Georges Brevot said the anticipated order for 48 was "in its final stages."

He also says he expects delivery of the first production models in 1999 or 2000 and that they will see active service from 2004.

"In the meantime we will rely on the Mirage 2000D and 2000-5," he adds.


He praises the Rafale's multiple capabilities, saying that its ability to combine air-to-ground and air defence or air superiority missions make it the best option to satisfy France's requirements after the year 2003.

At a joint press conference with Airco, also attended by Dassault head of communications Admiral Jean-Pierre Robillard, Gen Brevot said that despite delays in firm orders from the French Air Force, six Rafales were already in production for the French Navy.

As a result, all the necessary assets are in place to satisfy any concerns that foreign purchasers, such as the UAE, might have about delivery.

Source: Flight Daily News