Rafale fighter aircraft
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Why French Rafale is so expensive?


While sales of other aircraft lines were moderate or even shaky, but Dassault Aviation’s “Phoenix of the Sky” Rafale had a bumper crop with a number of “terrible” contracts and a lot of great deals. Thanks to its superior features,

Rafale “expensive as hot cakes”

On May 4, Egypt announced that it had signed a deal with France to buy 30 Rafale aircraft for $ 4.5 billion (about 150 million each). This contract through a financing loan with a minimum term of 10 years helps Egypt surpass India and Qatar as the largest buyer of Rafale from France. Egypt signed the first contract for $5.9 billion in February 2015 for 24 Rafale aircraft (8 single-seaters, 16 two-seaters, about $245 million each), Meteor and Strom shadow missiles, with loans financed up to 50% by French banks.

Egyptian Air Force rafale aircraft
Egyptian Air Force Rafale aircraft

Egypt’s latest deal comes just four months after Greece confirmed a $3.01 billion contract for 18 Rafales (including weapons), including six new and 12 used. will be obtained from the French Air Force). Under the agreement, 6 of the used Rafale aircraft will be delivered at a schedule of 1 per month, starting from July 2021; 6 new ones to be delivered in mid-2022, and the last 6 used ones will be delivered by early 2023.

Six years ago, Qatar bought 24 Rafales with an option to buy 12 more for $7 billion. The contract includes the supply of long-range cruise missiles and Meteor missiles as well as the training of 36 pilots and 100 technicians and a number of Qatari intelligence officers; The price was about 270 million USD/piece. By the end of 2017, the option to add 12 Rafales was made available for $1.3 billion ($110 million each) and an additional option for another 36 aircraft.

In 2016, India purchased 36 Rafales for nearly $8 billion, including the option to add 18 more. So far, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been equipped with 15 Rafales with accompanying weapons, priced at about 220 million USD each; The remaining jets are expected to be delivered and commissioned by the end of 2022.

Indian air force Rafale fighter aircraft
Indian air force Rafale fighter aircraft

Croatia has just confirmed the purchase of 12 10-year-old Rafale light twin-engine fighter jets from France under a contract worth 1.22 billion USD (about 100 million USD each, including training and some associated weapons. mandarin). The first 6 will be delivered in 2024, the remaining 6 – 2025. Rafale will replace the Soviet MiG-21BiS jets currently in service that have been discontinued since 1985, much cheaper to operate than the Rafale and easier to maintain, but its combat capabilities are very limited compared to modern fighters.

Croatia was previously slated to buy used F-16 fighter jets from the Israeli Air Force, which benefits from numerous Israeli upgrades, has lower operating costs and is easier to maintain than the aircraft. The deal was not reached due to US objections, according to which the US was seeking to market its own newly built F-16s and the Swedish Gripen fighter jet as a competitor.

According to French media, Indonesia could become Rafale’s next customer with the sale of at least 36 units, which is expected to be signed soon. The two countries initiated a strategic dialogue this year with the aim of quickly signing a cooperation agreement in the defense sector. Dassault may agree to an eco-system of components production that Indonesia is said to be proposing. Indonesia recently turned down an offer to buy F-16 fighter jets from the US after Washington refused to sell stealthy F-35s to Jakarta.

dassault rafale
Rafale naval variant

In addition, the purchase of 12 Su-35 aircraft from Russia is being “soaked” since 2018. Faced with budget constraints, Indonesia can follow Egypt’s model of having jet fighters The effort was financed in part by a French banking consortium. What Indonesia is aiming for is becoming part of the Rafale supply chain, making technology transfer and production licensing the cornerstone of its arms procurement policy.

Earlier we reported that Switzerland soon may sign a deal with France worth of $7 billion to supply Rafale F4 to Swiss air force. The selected aircraft will replace the Swiss Air Force’s fleet of F-5E Tiger II and obsolete F-18C Hornet fighters.

Why is Rafale expensive?

The first flight took place in July 1986, the Rafale of Dassault Aviation Group was officially equipped for the French Air Force in 2001. As of January 2019, there are 175 Rafale built with three main variants: two-seat (Rafale B), one-seat (Rafale C) and fighter aircraft (Rafale M). Considered the quintessence of the French defense industry, the Rafale multirole fighter with its unique triangular wing design and advanced avionics is one of the world’s leading fighters.

France’s Rafale has previously struggled to compete in export markets, and although Paris often offers generous investments and other incentives to countries that acquire them, the aircraft has more successful since 2020 when marketed as a second-hand fighter to countries that are difficult to buy new aircraft.

French air force rafale
French air force rafale

Greece is the first instance of Rafale being sold to a European country. The main reasons why Rafale has not been able to export much is because of its very expensive price – nearly 90 million USD (excluding weapons); Partners who want to buy Rafale cannot use their own missiles, but must buy enough French missiles – which makes Rafale less competitive compared to other countries’ aircraft that can use a lot. different types of missiles such as Eurofighter, Su-27/30, new variant F-15/16/18 and JAS-39 Gripen.

Rafale has a length of 15.27 m, a wingspan of 10.8 m, a height of 5.34 m, can reach a flight speed of 2,250 km/h, a range of 1,800 km, a ceiling of 18,000 m (surpassing even heavy fighter class Su-30, Russian Su-35 and American F-35). Rafale often carries a mixture of air and ground attack weapons on each mission, including air-to-air missiles (AIM-9, AIM-132, AIM-120, Magic II, MBDA Meteor), air-to-ground (MBDA Apache, SCALP EG, AASM, AM 39 Exocet), anti-radar, air-to-ship, guided bombs.

indian air force Rafale

Armed with weapons such as the Strom Shadow air-to-surface cruise missile with a range of 300 km, the Meteor air-to-air missile with a range of 120-150 km and the Hammer air-to-ground precision guided munition with a range of 20- 70 km, Rafale can perform reconnaissance missions, long-range interception, ground support, attack deep into enemy territory, destroy aircraft carriers and use tactical nuclear weapons.Participating in real combat, Rafale quickly proved valuable and effective in combat missions, which was highly appreciated

Rafale is equipped with active phased array radar, two rear-burner Smecma M88-4E jet engines using a digital fuel control system to increase thrust and save fuel. Rafale has an optimized aerodynamic design that reduces radar reflectivity and is applied with infrared emission reduction technology to improve stealth. The ability to maneuver flexibly with high speed gives Rafale many options to attack and coordinate combat.

Rafale F3R with MICA and Meteor AAM
Rafale F3R with MICA and Meteor AAM

The SPECTRA integrated electronic warfare system with sensors helps Rafale detect, identify and identify threats from a distance of 200 km, helping pilots to perceive the situation and choose the most appropriate countermeasures, increasing survivability in combat. Rafale has the most modern communication systems, including multi-function radar, IRST infrared tracking and reconnaissance complex, voice command system, modern pilot helmet with sight and monitor, systems electronic defense, and OSF laser tracking.

The electronic devices on this fighter are integrated with modularization technology to help control all the main features of the aircraft such as flight control, data fusion, firing guidance and communication between pilots in the flight. team. Having fought for the first time in Operation Odyssey Dawn, then established a no-fly zone over the territory of Libya, Mali, Afghanistan and now – actually fought in Syria, Rafale has quickly proven its value and high effectiveness in combat combat mission, highly appreciated by military experts.


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