The Ministry of the Armed Forces wants to co-develop the Rafale F5 with the “Club Rafale ” for 2030

The Neuron combat drone during a test flight with a Rafale e1684749975607 Military planning and plans | Defense Analysis | Fighter aircraft

If, during its initial presentation, the new French Military Programming Law 2024-2030 could appear dull and without emphasis, it was considerably expanded during the parliamentary debates, both due to amendments coming from parliamentarians themselves. -themselves, only through amendments and clarifications provided by the Ministry of the Armed Forces itself, particularly around the Rafale F5 program.

This is how several key programs were confirmed, such as the new generation aircraft carrier, while the budget envelope was consolidated at €413 billion, and the Ministry of the Armed Forces opened the way to other opportunities. , such as a second aircraft carrier or underwater combat drones.

The Rafale has also received a lot of attention. Thus, a few days ago before the National Assembly, the Ministry of the Armed Forces presented an amendment aimed at regulating the developments of the program, in particular the F5 version which must have renewed capabilities in terms of data fusion, but also new capabilities, such as the suppression of the adversary's anti-aircraft defenses, and especially that of evolving alongside combat drones developed from the Neuron program .

However, if this amendment specified that work on the Rafale F5 and its combat drone was to begin and be continued over the coming LPM, everyone, including the CEO of Dassault Aviation, envisaged entry into service around 2035.

The Rafale F5 will integrate a combat drone derived from the Neuron
The Rafale F5 will integrate a combat drone derived from the Neuron

Questioned on this subject by the members of the Senate committee for the armed forces and international affairs, the Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, presented yesterday a timetable, but also a programmatic approach, much more ambitious.

Thus, according to the Minister, it is not part but all of the R&D work to give birth to the Rafale F5 and the combat drone derived from the Neuron, which will be carried out on the future LPM 2024-2030, which supposes, as it has explicitly confirmed, that the two devices will enter service in 2030, or at least at the very beginning of the LPM to follow.

This statement, obviously more than welcome, is not the biggest surprise of this hearing of the Minister. Indeed, to develop the new devices, and finance them, the Minister intends to solicit "the Rafale Club", that is to say the operators present (Egypt, Qatar, India, Greece) and future (Indonesia, Croatia, Arab Emirates Unis) of the device, to participate in this critical evolution of the program.

If, for the moment, this is probably only a potential opening mentioned by Sebastien Lecornu, this announcement nevertheless undoubtedly represents a profound change of paradigm around the Rafale program, and more generally in the way in which France envisages now the relationships it intends to maintain with the operators of its weapons systems.

RAfale greece Military planning and plans | Defense Analysis | Fighter aircraft
Greece is probably an excellent candidate to join the co-development of the Rafale F5

Indeed, traditionally, France divides the customers of its defense equipment into two weakly porous categories. On the one hand, there are the partners, most often close European countries with whom the equipment is co-produced, as is the case of the United Kingdom in the field of missiles and underwater warfare, from Germany and Spain in the field of combat aircraft and tanks, or from Italy in the naval field and surface-to-air missiles.

The others are user customers, with whom it is possible to collaborate occasionally, but who are almost never solicited or even consulted, when it comes to developing the equipment in service within the French armies.

LOGO meta defense 70 Military planning and plans | Defense Analysis | Fighter aircraft

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