The Rafale aircraft will provide modern capabilities to the French military until the FCAS is ready for service.
France has placed an order for the fifth tranche of Rafale fighters for its military. The contract, worth more than €5 billion (USD 5.5 billion), will provide 42 new Rafale F4 fighters to the French Air and Space Force, 12 of which will replace the ones sold to Croatia, and will be delivered between 2027 and 2032.
The order was placed in December, even if it was announced only now, and brought to 234 the total of the Rafales ordered by France, while the total export orders currently stand at 261 aircraft. Defense News reports that Dassault has a backlog of 211 Rafales, meaning that the production line will be active for over 10 years with goal of 15 aircraft per year.
Sebastien Lecornu, the French armed forces minister, underlined that this new order will contribute to more than 7,000 jobs in 400 companies in France. French officials however are also expressing concerns about the development of the Future Air Combat System, which is currently expected to enter service after 2045.
The new aircraft will all be single seaters Rafale F4, the same standard to which all others currently in service are being upgraded. These aircraft will be upgraded in the 2030s to the F5 standard, which the government is asking Dassault to start developing this year. This upgrade is considered as the preparation for the FCAS’ Next Generation Fighter’s entry into service, intended to maintain proficiency for air combat operations and integrating an even higher level of connectivity than the F4 standard.