With the announcement of the firm order for 80 combat aircraft by the United Arab Emirates, the 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 Rafale orders soar, 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 Rafale customers
This dazzling success and, if not unexpected, in any case highly hoped for , is linked to several concomitant factors, helping to create a context and a much greater attractiveness than before for the Rafale on the international scene.
Firstly, this is linked to the very significant worsening of international tensions, and it should be noted that the vast majority of Rafale customers have an operational need that is both clear and immediate, as is the case of India against China and Pakistan, of Greece against Turkey, of Egypt against Libya, of Sudan and 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 Rafale 's six international customers, 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.
The loyalty of Mirage 2000 operators
It should also be noted that five of the international customers who declared themselves in favor of the Rafale , already used French combat aircraft, over several generations, and that they are still using their Mirage 2000 today, among the eight export customers in total for the latest 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 families of aircraft.
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 , than for personnel accustomed to American procedures on F-16 or F-18 to do this, 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 new standard of the French aircraft, designated under the term F4, arrive.
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