Dassault Boosts Rafale Production to Three Jets Per Month

Dassault Boosts Rafale Production to Three Jets Per Month

French aerospace manufacturer Dassault Aviation plans to significantly increase production of its Rafale multirole fighter jet to three units per month in 2023, up from two per month currently. The production ramp-up comes in response to a surge in new orders from both foreign militaries and the French Air Force itself.

“We are moving from less than one unit in 2020, which was critical, to three units per month. Currently, we are at two units,” stated Dassault CEO Eric Trappier in an interview with French media. He added the company has the capacity for a rate of up to four Rafales monthly if required.

The accelerated production enables Dassault to work through its growing order backlog. In 2022 alone, the company secured 92 new Rafale orders, with another 60 orders already booked in just the first half of 2023, including 18 from an undisclosed customer.

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French Air Force Rafale Orders

A major driver is the French government’s own decision in January to purchase an additional 42 Rafale fighters for $5.5 billion amid concerns over the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program. FCAS, a French-German-Spanish effort, is not expected to field a 6th generation replacement for the Rafale until after 2045 at the earliest.

As a result, France plans to keep upgrading and extending the service life of its Rafale fleet well into the 2040s as a stop-gap. The 42 newly ordered jets bring France’s total Rafale procurement to 234 aircraft.

The new French order covers the F4 variant but with a provision to upgrade to the “Super Rafale” F5 configuration in the 2030s incorporating select 6th gen capabilities like sensor fusion and cognitive technologies. France has operated the Rafale since the mid 2000s, employing it for combat operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali and other theaters.

Rafale Export Momentum

On top of domestic orders, Dassault has also landed major export deals for the Rafale from India, Egypt, the UAE and Indonesia totaling 261 aircraft to date. The affordable, compact, multirole fighter has proven popular on the international market compared to larger, pricier competitors like the F-35.

With its integrated sensor suite, modern electronic warfare systems, long endurance and large payload, the Rafale combines air superiority with precision strike and long-range interdiction capabilities. It provides a potent deterrent for smaller air forces and complements high end fighters in larger inventories.

As Dassault works to increase its final assembly throughput, the company’s supply chain partners like Safran, Thales and MBDA are also gearing up. With over 500 Rafales on order and more potential export deals in the pipeline, the French fighter production lines will be running at maximum capacity for years to come to meet global demand.

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