Defence & Security

France Has Opted to Invest €11.7 billion in Dassault Rafael Because the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) Would Not Be Operational Until 2040-45

When Western European powers were working on the Eurofighter Typhoon, France was working on its own aircraft, and their involvement in building aircraft since the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War gave them the capability to build the 4.5 generation Dassault Rafale. 

Rafael is regarded as one of the best fighters in the world in the medium multirole capability category. As a result, the Indian Air Force purchased 36 Rafale fighters in 2015, with the last arriving in 2022. 

India is also buying Rafael-M (Marine) fighters for the Indian Navy's indigenously made aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France this year, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, approved the purchase of 26 Rafale-M fighter jets. 

Following receiving fighters from Dassault, the Indian Air Force stationed one quadrant of fighters at the Ambala Air Force base near the Pakistani border, while the next quadrant was stationed in Hashimara, West Bengal, at the meeting point of Bhutan, China, and India.

Recently, when an Unidentified Foreign Object (UFO) emerged in the skies above Imphal Airport, the Indian Air Force instantly scrambled two Rafael fighters from the Hashimara base, but it vanished before they arrived. 

According to La Tribune, Saudi Arabia is considering purchasing 54 Rafale fighter jets from French manufacturer Dassault Aviation SA after observing the performance of Rafael and receiving feedback from its ally India. 

The Kingdom has ordered the corporation to present a proposal for a potential purchase by November 10, according to the newspaper, citing unidentified sources. The country has never ordered French military jets before. 

This time, they are considering purchasing weapons from France because the Kingdom has been ostracised by its most trusted friend, the United States, over the issue of Jamal Khashoggi's alleged assassination by Saudi Arabia.

President Joe Biden promised to declare Saudi Arabia a "Pariah" state during his political rally for the 2020 Presidential election, but he failed miserably when the Russia-Ukraine war pushed the oil price to its peak and Biden literally tried to force Saudi Arabia to drill more oil, which they refused.

These are the events that paved the way for other weapon manufacturers to sell their products to Saudi Arabia.

France has opted to increase its investment in the Dassault Rafael. France is to invest €6.41 billion ($6.75 billion) in the Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft program between 2023 and 2026, with an extra €5.36 billion set aside after 2026

This considerable sum will be used to fund the development and manufacturing of the Rafale F4 version (€2.27 billion), which will have increased networked collaborative combat capabilities and whose latest F4.2 model is already in the works. 

The defense ministry's 2024 budget also contains €211.9 million in initial funding for the next Rafale variant, codenamed F5. This sum will also be used to create the F5's next-generation RBE2 XG radar, as well as risk reduction research

The F5 update is intended to retain competency for air combat operations and integrate a greater level of connectivity while the FCAS program waits for the Next Generation Weapon System. The Rafale F5 modification is viewed as a predecessor to the FCAS's Next Generation Fighter. 

In addition, €128.09 million will be spent between 2024 and 2026 for the development of a future uncrewed combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) to support the Rafale F5.

The largest investment in Rafale, however, is €8.5 billion, which will be used to pay for the delivery of new production aircraft to the French Air Force.

According to La Tribune, €3.7 billion in 2023-2026 will pay for 13 aircraft to be delivered in 2023 and 2024. These will be the final French F3R production aircraft and the whole French fleet will be updated to the F4.2 variant. 

La Tribuna also reported that France is also collaborating with Germany and Spain on the Future Air Combat System (SCAF) program. The majority of the funding has been allotted to SCAF Phase 1B (Next Generation Weapon System). 

Furthermore, France has also budgeted an additional €300 million for future SCAF-related activities beyond 2026, increasing the amount funded for SCAF to date to €1.65 billion.

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