Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Dassault Signs Another Deal For Rafale Fighter Jets; Bigger Order Expected From Indonesia – French Weekly

After securing a mega-deal from the UAE in December, the French aerospace giant Dassault Aviation has received an order from Indonesia for six Rafale fighters, with more likely on the way, French weekly newspaper La Tribune claimed.

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It said the initial order is undoubtedly small but is significant for the jet manufacturer since it provides a foothold in a country that had never purchased combat aircraft from France.

French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly may be able to secure a larger order for 30-36 aircraft during her visit to Indonesia on February 9-10, the French newspaper speculated. Last month, she had postponed her visit.  

The EurAsian Times had earlier reported that the discussions between France and Indonesia on this procurement were over and the contract was now “awaiting activation”. 

Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier has apparently set himself the target of selling the Rafale to a new country even as markets for the Mirage 2000 have already exhausted. 

Of late, Rafale has proved to be a great success for the French company as the aircraft was exported to Egypt, Qatar, India, the United Arab Emirates, and Greece. Croatia also made a contract last year for 12 second-hand Rafales. The country had never acquired a French fighter plane previously. 

Rafale F4 in flight
A Rafale armed with various munitions. (Dassault Aviation image)

Budget For Rafale Jets

Given the lack of budgetary clarity, the deal, which originally called for the supply of 36 fighter jets to the Indonesian Air Force, has experienced numerous obstacles. Jakarta is said to be on the lookout for a foreign lender to fund the project.

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The Indonesian Ministry of Defense is likely to procure six Rafales with the funds set aside for the acquisition of Sukhoi 35 fighter jets (nearly 600 million dollars). 

In December 2021, Indonesia’s Air Force Chief announced that the government would forgo purchasing the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 in favor of the US-made F-15EX Eagle II or the French-made Rafale. While Indonesia has not disclosed the reason behind the move, it could be due to fears of inviting American sanctions under  CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act). 

Egyptian Air Force Rafale
The Egyptian Air Force Rafale. (via Twitter)

In February 2021, Asia Times had reported that Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto could purchase 36 Rafale fighters and 8 Boeing F-15 EX aircraft to reinforce the country’s front-line air defenses. 

Indonesia is also looking to buy three Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transport planes, three Airbus A330 tankers for aerial refueling, six MQ-1 Predator drones, and Italy’s Leonardo early-warning radar system.

Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto held a bilateral meeting with the French Defense Minister, Florence Parly. (Doc. Indonesian Embassy in Paris)
Photo: Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto’s meeting with Florence Parly (Doc. Indonesian Embassy in Paris)

Rafale Multirole Combat Fighter

The Rafale is a French twin-jet combat aircraft capable of performing a wide range of short and long-range tasks, including air dominance and air defense, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes, and nuclear deterrent.

In 2004, the French Navy acquired the Rafale, followed by the French Air Force in 2006.  The fighter planes were employed in combat missions in Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, Syria, and Iraq. The Navy version of the Rafale has 13 hardpoints, while the Air Force version has 14, and both can carry payloads of over 9 tonnes.

Its armament includes Mica, Magic, Sidewinder, ASRAAM, and AMRAAM air-to-air missiles; Apache, AS30L, ALARM, HARM, Maverick, and PGM100 air-to-ground missiles; and Exocet / AM39, Penguin 3, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. 

Thales’ RBE2 passive electronically scanned radar with look-down and shoot-down capability is installed on the Rafale. By scanning up to eight targets simultaneously, the radar can identify and prioritize threats.

The redesigned F3R Standard has the RBE2 AESA radar system, the METEOR long-range air-to-air missile, the TALIOS targeting and laser designation pod, and an update to the SPECTRA electronic warfare suite.

The Rafale is also equipped with the Thales Spectra electronic warfare system, which includes solid-state transmitters, a DAL laser warning receiver, missile warning, detection systems, and jammers.

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