Faced with today’s constantly changing threat environment, top-tier air forces place their trust in our combat aircraft. And we’re already working on the systems needed to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
Rafale, an omnirole fighter suited to all theaters of operation
India ordered 36 Rafales in 2016, a contract that led to the creation of a joint venture with Reliance Group to manage the offsets provided for by the country’s “Make in India” initiative. This company will be a major asset, given the emerging needs of the Indian armed forces.
New Delhi’s decision to acquire the Rafale shows both the loyalty and demanding requirements of our military customers, and spotlights the qualities of this aircraft, designed to handle all missions previously assigned to seven different types of aircraft. The Rafale’s versatility will be further bolstered by the continued development of the standard F3-R, slated for qualification in mid-2018 and service entry in early 2019. The modernization of the Rafale F1 carrier-borne versions reflects this same approach.
As of December 31, 2016, 148 Rafales had been delivered in France. They have logged over 200,000 flight-hours to date, including 30,000 in combat: in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2013, in Libya in 2011, Mali since 2013, Iraq since 2014 and Syria since 2015.
In 2015, Egypt, then Qatar had already each ordered 24 Rafales. Egypt took delivery of three more in 2016, bringing its fleet to six aircraft, right on schedule.
Drones, a key role in tomorrow’s air combat environment
The success of the European combat drone nEUROn confirms our ability to manage a joint program, while keeping costs under control and staying on schedule. The French defense procurement agency DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) requested two new series of demonstrations last year: low-altitude test flights near the Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, and an analysis of how aging affects stealth characteristics.
Towards 2030, the FCAS (Future Combat Air System), manned or unmanned, will be operating alongside other military aircraft. The French and British governments assigned the feasibility study to Dassault Aviation and BAE Systems. This study has now been extended by a year, leading to the first phase of development, set to start at the end of 2017.
Dassault Aviation, Airbus Defence and Space and Leonardo officially signed the contract for a design study of a European medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft system (MALE RPAS) in September 2016. The end of this study will mark the kickoff of the development phase, planned for 2018.
Falcon, guarding the oceans
The Falcon 2000 maritime reconnaissance aircraft carries out a wide range of missions, including the fight against piracy, trafficking and pollution, monitoring fisheries, search&rescue, intelligence, etc. It offers the best combination of size, payload capacity, speed, endurance and total cost of ownership, and features an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
The Japanese coast guard acquired a third aircraft of this type in 2016.
The French navy has taken delivery of the last of four newly retrofitted Falcon 50 maritime surveillance aircraft. Converted at the Dassault Aviation facility in Bordeaux-Mérignac, these aircraft are now fitted with a radar, an optronic system, a new cockpit and viewing ports.
We provide full support services for all Dassault Aviation military aircraft, and we stay in close touch with all users.
We are expanding our local technical assistance capabilities to fully meet our customers’ expectations. Technical experts can be seconded to our users and support operations by providing various services, including periodic checks, shop visits, etc.
We are in contact with our customers right from the aircraft design phase, enabling us to tailor our products and services to their exact requirements.
Several major upgrade projects are under way in France, including ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft for the French navy and Mirage 2000D fighters for the air force. These modifications clearly illustrate the upgradeability of our aircraft, to take into account operating feedback.
In addition, we meet our service commitments by providing spare parts to the specialized distribution units set up at the Saint-Dizier, Mont-de-Marsan and Landivisiau air bases, within the scope of the Rafale Care contract. We are also continuing the Mirage Care contract, while the ATL2 Care contract will run for a period of five years.
In export markets, we have adapted to fluctuations in operations by our Mirage 2000 customers. We are also supporting Egypt in the deployment of its Rafales, continuing to develop support services for Qatar’s Rafales, and have held the first meetings in India, following their order for 36 Rafales.
Developing our training capabilities
After having trained Egyptian pilots and mechanics on the Rafale, in close collaboration with the French armed forces, we have started initial training for technicians from Qatar. This training starts with a general aeronautical apprenticeship at the school in Rochefort or the Aerocampus-Latresne, and then continues at the Mont-de-Marsan base to earn Rafale type certificates.
The challenge is to provide top-flight training to Qatari technicians, so they will be ready to support the Qatar Emiri Air Force’s Rafale fleet starting in 2019.
In France, we continue to play a major role in the training of military pilots, within the scope of the FOMEDEC (Formation modernisée et entraînement différencié des équipages de chasse) fighter crew training program.