France’s Dassault Aviation Group has made it to the top 25 arms companies across the globe for the first time due to an exponential increase in the export deliveries of Rafale combat aircraft to Qatar, Egypt, and India in 2019,
According to data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), sales of arms and military services by the sector’s largest 25 companies totaled US$361 billion in 2019, an 8.5 percent increase from 2018. It says that the largest percentage increase in annual arms sales — 105 percent — was reported by French manufacturer Dassault Aviation.
Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme Lucie Béraud-Sudreau noted that “sharp rise in export deliveries of Rafale combat aircraft pushed Dassault Aviation into the top 25 arms companies for the first time”.
The aviation group delivered 26 Rafale fighter jets to Qatar, Egypt, and India in 2019, against nine delivered in 2018. The French manufacturer has reported a net profit up 24.5% in 2019, reaching €713 million. The exportation revenue reached €4.2 billion, up from €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) in 2018.
Rafale Export Orders
The twin-engine fighter has been in service with the French Air Force since 2004 but France has long struggled to sell the fighter jet abroad for several years. The first order was received from Egypt in 2015 for 24 jets at a cost of € 5.2 billion (US$5.9 billion) (including a FREMM multipurpose frigate and a supply of missiles).
The second contract was received from Qatar, which had ordered 24 of the fighters in 2015, adding 12 more in 2018.
As of 2020, Qatar Emiri Air Force has three batches of Dassault Rafales, totaling 15 aircraft, and the first squadron is working up at the new Tamim Air Base at Dukhan in western Qatar.
Meanwhile, the talks between India and France were underway. India received five jets in July, as per the $8.7-billion agreement signed with France in 2016 for the delivery of 36 Rafales. Reports suggest 16 more Rafale fighter jets will be inducted into the Indian Air Force’s ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron by April next year.
Rafale Gets More Buyers
The French origin fighter jet, which had not seen many buyers despite boasting of awe-inspiring capabilities, was recently noticed by Indonesia.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly has reportedly confirmed that Indonesia is indeed interested in purchasing Rafale jets from her country and that the deal was in a very “advanced” stage.
Indonesia’s Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto had reinstated his interest in buying 48 Rafales during his visit to France in October. But the revised number confirmed by the French defense minister is 36.
Another country that has joined the list of buyers is Greece. Amid threats from Turkey, Greece will receive 12 second-hand and six new Rafales and the first aircraft will be received in 2021. In November, France approved the sale of 18 Rafale fighters to Greece, making it the first European nation to buy the fighters in a deal worth €1.7 billion.
If the fortune is in Dassault’s favor, then it may see another order for Rafales from Croatia. Its defense minister has said that Croatia will decide very soon on the planned purchase of 12 fighter jets. Apart from France, the country has received bids from the US for F-16 and Sweden for JAS-39 C/D Gripen jets.
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