Why the Rafale Is F4 such an international success?

With the announcement of the firm order for 80 combat aircraft by the United Arab Emirates, le Rafale F4 has become, with 242 aircraft ordered for export from six air forces, the greatest international commercial success of its generation.

It thus clearly outperforms other aircraft in the same category such as the Eurofighter. Typhoon, the Super Hornet or the Su-35, and even lighter aircraft of the same generation such as the Swedish Gripen or the American F-16 Block 70/72+ Viper.

In the world, only Lockheed-Martin's F-35, enjoying unwavering strategic support from Washington and an R&D budget 12 times larger than that of the French plane, does better than the French twin-engine plane, with more than 600 devices ordered internationally.

However, this year alone will have seen orders for Rafale take off, with 5 successive orders from 4 countries, for a total of 146 aircraft ordered, or 60% of the total export orders recorded by the French aircraft.

The profile of international customers Rafale

This dazzling success and, if not unexpected, in any case highly hoped for, is linked to several concomitant factors, contributing to creating a context and a much greater attractiveness than before of the Rafale on the international scene.

Firstly, this is linked to the very significant worsening of international tensions, and it will be noted that the vast majority of clients of the Rafale have an operational need that is both clear and immediate, as is the case of India facing China and Pakistan, Greece facing Turkey, Egypt facing Libya, Sudan and the Turkey.

As for the United Arab Emirates, they must face Iran and are engaged in intense competition with Qatar, itself a supporter of Turkey and on good terms with Tehran.

Of the six international clients of Rafale, 3 are in a situation of high tensions, and two in a situation of medium tensions, only Croatia being less exposed at its borders than the other five.

India Rafale F3R
The Rafale Indians play a central role in New Delhi's strategy against China, which suggests that an additional order would be possible in the short or medium term.

The loyalty of Mirage 2000 operators

It should also be noted that five of the international customers who declared themselves in favor of Rafale, were already using French combat aircraft over several generations, and they are still using their Mirage 2000 today, among the eight export customers in total for the last representative of the Mirage family.

There is therefore a very important factor that could be described as atavistic in the acquisition of combat aircraft, not only for the Rafale, but for many device families.

This situation is not unfounded, since using an imported combat aircraft means imbibing the doctrines and procedures of its country of origin, while developing close links with its defense aeronautical industry for maintenance and evolution of the park.

It is therefore much simpler for Mirage 2000 pilots and maintenance personnel to switch to Rafale, that for personnel accustomed to American procedures on F-16 or F-18 to take this step, and vice versa.

If these two factors are important in the present success of the Rafale, they were only able to materialize thanks to the prospect of seeing the arrival of the new standard for the French aircraft, designated under the term F4.


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