Country could help to fund export version in return

Dassault is offering Singapore the option of investing in an upgraded multirole version of the Rafale in an effort to stay in contention in the country's fighter competition.

The French company is revising its response to last year's request for information (RFI) to include a proposal for Singapore to help fund the enhanced variant in return for a significant share of development work for local firms and a potential share of revenues from future export sales, say industry sources.

The aircraft would feature an improved Thales radar, compared with French air force and navy Rafales and upgraded avionics.

Dassault declines to comment on its Singapore campaign, saying it is bound by a confidentiality clause.

Singapore is expected to downselect from six to three or four proposals by June and order at least 20 fighters next year.

Pitched against the Rafale are the Boeing F-15 Eagle and F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60 and Sukhoi Su-35.

Dassault's original RFI submission envisaged significant French government financial support, which has subsequently fallen through, forcing the manufacturer to come up with an alternative investment scheme or drop its proposal of a dedicated export version altogether.

Under the new proposal, Dassault, Thales and the French DGA procurement agency would provide development funds alongside a contribution from the Singapore government.

Dassault and its partners Thales and engine manufacturer Snecma have not secured a Rafale export deal, the most recent competition loss being South Korea last year, prompting the French government to pull support for the export version. The smaller Singapore competition is the last near-term export opportunity for the Rafale.

Source: Flight International