Dassault's Rafale fighter jet is in trouble.

The Rafale is a fourth-generation fighter aircraft known for its quadruple redundant fly-by-wire control system and its aerodynamic configuration that ensures agility and a minimal radar cross-section.

Despite problems in its supply chain, Dassault plans to deliver 20 Rafale fighter jets in 2024, driven by its popularity in India and the Middle East.

Rafale demand exceeds Dassault’s production capacity.

Dassault has committed to delivering Rafale fighter jets to new customers within just three years of signing the contract. However, the recent wave of sales may complicate this 36-month commitment and put future deals at risk, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The production backlog has already reached 228 aircraft, which has been further exacerbated by recent orders from Indonesia and France.

The Rafale was originally designed for the French Air Force and Navy to be a versatile fighter capable of replacing seven different types of combat aircraft. Its development aimed to cover a wide range of missions, from air defense to anti-ship attacks, making it stand out as a force multiplier. The aircraft is expected to remain France’s primary combat aircraft until at least 2050.

The Rafale emerges as an alternative for countries that avoid political and economic dependence on American and Russian aircraft. Its acceptance in India and the Middle East is threatened by a significant drawback: dependence on a French domestic supply chain, already overburdened by domestic needs and support for Ukraine.

The legacy and technology behind the success of the Rafale

In 1985, France withdrew from the European Fighter Aircraft project and decided to develop their own fighter jet, the Rafale. The Avion de Combat Experimental (ACX) program was initiated for this purpose. In 1986, the first technology demonstrator of the Rafale, called Rafale A, took flight. This flight helped in laying the foundation for the design and technology of the aircraft, which included a fly-by-wire system and the extensive use of composite materials.

The Rafale is a fourth-generation fighter aircraft that boasts a quadruple redundant fly-by-wire control system and an aerodynamic configuration that ensures agility and a minimal radar cross-section. It is powered by two SNECMA M88-2 turbojets, which provide superior performance and operational versatility.

The Rafale has been in service since 2001 and has been selected by air forces across the world. It has proven its worth in combat situations in countries such as Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. It’s omnirole capability and independent features make it highly desirable, although current logistical challenges are present.

Impact on the supply chain and future solutions for the Rafale

Dassault’s reliance on a domestic supply chain for the Rafale gives it some insulation from global problems but does not make it immune. A shortage of engineering talent threatens to derail the increase in Rafale production, essential to meet growing demand.

This situation poses significant challenges for Dassault, which must balance the need to increase production with the constraints of its supply chain. Implementing strategies to diversify supply sources and optimize production will be crucial to maintaining commitment to your customers.

The future of the Rafale depends on how Dassault and its partners address these logistical challenges. Maintaining excellence in design and production, along with effective supply chain management, will be essential to secure its position in the global air defense market.