Florence Parly confirms the replacement of the 12 Rafale second-hand sold to Croatia

This puts an end to a long suspense, as well as certain concerns. Indeed, the Minister of the French Armed Forces Florence Parly, traveling to Zagreb for the signing of the sale of 12 Rafale used to Croatia, confirmed by a tweet that the devices, which will be taken from the fleet of the Air and Space Force, will effectively be replaced by an order that will be launched in 2023. In all likelihood, new fighter jets will be ordered concomitantly with the first batch of 30 Rafale to standard F 4.2, which must also take place at this time according to the planning of the Military Programming Law 2019.2025. In total, therefore, the Air and Space Force should therefore effectively have 159 Rafale planned for 2028, for a final target of 185 aircraft at the start of the following decade.

This decision was far from being made since the announcement of Zagreb's choice in favor of the French aircraft over the American F-16V and the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen C. Indeed, after having initially guaranteed that the 12 aircraft taken from the Air Force fleet would give rise to a complete replacement as was the case for the 12 Rafale second-hand equipment acquired by Athens a few months earlier, the French authorities, and in particular the Ministry of the Armed Forces, seemed to be heading towards an allocation of credits linked to this sale to finance the modernization of the 14 Rafale F3 which, today, served as a stock of parts for the Air Force, while waiting to be able to finance their modernization.

RAfale greece Fighter aviation | Armed Forces Budgets and Defense Efforts | Military aircraft construction
Lesson 12 Rafale second-hand aircraft acquired by Greece alongside 12 other new aircraft, gave rise to a replacement order announced a few weeks after the formalization of Athens' commitment.

Le Rafale F4, first standard of the second phase of evolution of Rafale, will not consist of one, but two standards. The F 4.1, available a priori at the end of next year, will be the new standard for devices coming from a later standard, and in particular the current F3R standard. It will give the French combat aircraft new capabilities, notably modernized sensors, a new version of the SPECTRA self-protection system, and the integration of new weapons such as the MICA NG air-to-air missile. The F 4.2 standard will be available in 2024 and exclusively reserved for new devices, as it integrates certain structural developments of the device. These developments will notably enable it to significantly increase its data processing and fusion capabilities, allowing it to get as close as possible to the capabilities offered by so-called 5th generation aircraft in this area. The two lines will subsequently evolve in parallel towards subsequent standards, the F 4.2 naturally offering extended integration capabilities compared to the F4.1.

In fact, replacing Rafale in the fleet by new aircraft which will be directly delivered to the F4.2 standard naturally constitutes an opportunity for the Air and Space Force, since its new aircraft will not only have extended capabilities and flight potential integral, but also enhanced scalability, with the aim of convergence towards the European FCAS. This is also an excellent budgetary operation, since the revenue for the State generated by the sale of the 12 used devices combined with the revenue linked to the production of the 12 new devices will undoubtedly exceed the investments necessary for acquire these new devices, while saving modernization costs.

macron parly Fighter aircraft | Army Budgets and Defense Efforts | Military aircraft construction
Florence Parly's announcement made today is ultimately to be taken in the conditional, since it only commits, in reality, Emmanuel Macron himself, and this only if he emerges victorious in the presidential and legislative elections in to come

Still, the announcement made by Florence Parly is only partially binding, since it only engages, in the end, Emmanuel Macron, and this only if he were actually re-elected in 2022. However, until now, questions of defense seem to be approached in a superficial way, if not totally ignored, by all the candidates for the Supreme Magistracy, whether or not they are actually declared, and one can fear, therefore, that announcements of this type in no way constitute a firm commitment by the State in favor of its armies. One can wonder, under these conditions, if it would not have been preferable to place this order in the short term before the presidential elections, and not to postpone it to 2023, with deliveries in 2026 or 2027 as certainly imagined by the Minister of the Armed Forces, so as to guarantee its perfect execution, whatever the result of the upcoming elections.

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