France Orders 42 More Dassault Rafale Combat Jets for $5.5B

France has ordered 42 additional Rafale twin-engine fighter aircraft for the country’s air force.

According to an announcement by manufacturer Dassault Aviation, the 5-billion-euro ($5.5-billion) agreement is already the fifth tranche of Rafale orders made by the French military since the 1990s.

The European nation bought 13 Rafale jets in 1993, 48 in 1999, 59 in 2004, and 60 in 2009. It also placed a special order for 12 Rafales to replace a different type of aircraft it transferred to Greece.

The latest order will increase the number in the French inventory to 234.

“On behalf of Dassault Aviation and the 400 companies involved in the Rafale program, I would like to thank the Ministry for the Armed Forces, the [French defense procurement agency], and the [French Air Force] for their renewed confidence,” company chairman Éric Trappier said.

“We are ready and determined to use our skills as [the] prime contractor and complex systems integrator to serve the sovereignty of our nation.”

The newly-ordered aircraft will be delivered to the French Air Force between 2027 and 2032.

An ‘Omni-Role’ Aircraft

Dassault’s Rafale is regarded as an “omni-role” aircraft because of its ability to carry out various short- and long-range missions.

It can carry payloads to support deep strikes, air-to-air intercepts, anti-ship attacks, and strategic reconnaissance.

It can also operate from land and aircraft carriers.

The company confirmed that the French variant of the Rafales can now undertake nuclear strike deterrence, thanks to its ASMP medium-range nuclear missile.

“Its design makes it relevant against both traditional and asymmetrical threats,” Dassault stated on its website. “It addresses the emerging needs of the armed forces in a changing geopolitical and security context.”

The Rafale has been exported to Egypt, Qatar, India, Greece, and the UAE. Indonesia has become its latest foreign customer after ordering 18 aircraft to be delivered by 2026.

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