3 Rafale per month: Does Dassault Aviation anticipate new orders to come?

From 2000 to 2023, Dassault Aviation delivered 164 fighters Rafale to the French Air Force, as well as 102 aircraft for export, or an average of 11,2 fighters per year, without ever falling below the floor of 11 aircraft produced each year, essential to maintain the active production chain.

It is therefore a real capacity revolution which is being prepared in Mérignac, for the assembly line of the Rafale, as for its entire subcontracting chain. The CEO of Dassault Aviation has, in fact, announced that production of the flagship of French military aeronautics would increase, by the end of 2024, to three aircraft per month.

Far from the defensive positions which aimed to preserve the production line, the French aircraft manufacturer is, through this decision, moving to a production level known only to the American or Chinese superpowers for a single model, and thereby anticipates new orders to come, in order to amortize the necessary investments, to give it substance.

Produce 3 Rafale per month by the end of 2024: a monumental effort for the Team Rafale

The challenge is significant for Dassault Aviation, and especially for all 500 companies belonging to the Team Rafale. Indeed, following the Covid crisis, as well as the consequences of inflation having led to certain social movements in the French fighter's subcontracting chain, only 13 were actually delivered in 2023, out of the 15 which were planned.

Rafale four
Qatar was the second export customer of Rafale. In 2015, it ordered 24 fighters, followed two years later by an option for 12 additional fighters.

In other words, through this announcement, Eric Trappier wants that in just one year, the production of Rafale new, or tripled. While many questions had focused on the capacity of the Mérignac assembly line, to increase production beyond two devices per month, the CEO of the group had indicated, a few months ago, that this could grow to four, and even five hunters per month.

The blocking point, concerning the increase in delivery rates, is therefore not to be found in Mérignac, but in this subcontracting chain, which plays a key role in the manufacture of the fighter.

Indeed, if Dassault, Thales or Safran, the three large groups participating in the program, have no difficulty increasing their production rates and financing their growth, this is not the case for all mid-sized companies and SMEs. /PMI which constitutes the bulk of the Supply Chain.

They face significant setbacks in obtaining the financing required to prepare to increase production rates, but also to recruit the necessary personnel, often training them, while for twenty years, the delivery rates of the Rafale evolved between 11 and 16 devices per year.

Rafale M armed with a nuclear ASMPA catapulting missile
Part of Rafale M of the French Navy will have to be withdrawn from service at the start of the next decade, after thirty years of grueling service on aircraft carriers.

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  1. This is obviously just a detail which in no way affects the relevance of the subject but I do not understand the use of the feminine for the English word "team": "la" team Rafale
    The Frenchification of the word seems to me to have led to the use of the masculine: un team
    Where “the” team comes from Rafale..
    Perhaps a confusion with the feminine in the French translation: a team, the team…
    But that is not the essential thing which is the financing of French aeronautics through recurring exports also linked to the reduction of delivery times.



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