On display in the Thales pavilion, the AESA (active electronically scanned array) version of the RBE2 radar will soon become the first of its kind to go operational in Europe. The first French air force Rafale squadron to convert to the new fighter will receive four AESA-equipped aircraft in October. The first production radar was delivered last October and is completing operational testing at Mont de Marsan airbase.
Speaking prior to the Paris Air Show, Antoine Bouvier, CEO of European missile house MBDA, said, “2012 was an excellent year in terms of performance but it was a year of contrast for order intake. It was our best ever year for export, but the domestic market fell short, especially in France.” Leading those good export figures was a sizeable sale of MICA air-to-air missiles to India to support a Mirage 2000 upgrade program.
The $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India will be completed by the end of the year. That was the confident prediction of Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, at an eve-of-show press conference. Since India selected the French combat jet in January 2012, negotiations have dragged on, with thorny issues of local partnerships, offsets and liabilities unresolved.
At an eve-of-show press conference, Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation president and director-general, predicted that the $10 billion-plus contract to sell 126 Rafale combat jets to India would be completed by the end of the year. And he confirmed that the option for a further 63 aircraft was under active discussion.
Thales will today unveil its vision for a future cockpit for commercial aircraft. Avionics 2020 is a demonstration of technology that is available now and could be in service in seven years’ time, and it looks quite different from today’s cockpits.
So many countries, with so many aerospace companies! Visitors shouldn’t be fooled by the panoply of European companies displaying at the Paris Air Show next week. The harsh truth is that there’s not enough money to sustain them all, especially with respect to defense technology. The European Defence Agency (EDA) commissioned a study of the problem–and reached some alarming conclusions.
For the Dassault Rafale combat jet, the French intervention in Mali provided another chance to demonstrate its multirole capability. Starting with a 3,400-mile interdiction mission (AI) launched from France on the night of January 13, up to six aircraft subsequently flew daily from their deployed base at N’Djamena, Chad, also performing reconnaissance and close-air-support (CAS) missions. Six of them are still there.
The laser-guided version of the Sagem AASM (armament air-sol modulaire) air-launched “smart” weapon was qualified last month by the French air armaments agency (DGA) at the Cazaux flight-test center, and will soon enter service in France with operational squadrons of Rafale combat aircraft. It is intended primarily for use against mobile targets. Meanwhile, the French air force has revealed details of recent attack missions over Mali when up to 12 INS/GPS-guided versions of the AASM were salvo-fired within one minute against preplanned targets, to achieve maximum surprise.
Last December, Dassault Aviation named Eric Trappier as its new chairman and CEO. The 52-year old Frenchman, who was previously the group’s international executive vice president, succeeded Charles Edelstenne when he retired on January 8 after more than half a century of service to the Dassault group.
The United Arab Emirates Air Force has decided to buy another 25 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60 fighters. The deal is worth $4 to $5 billion, according to a senior Pentagon official who briefed reporters in Washington. The UAE, together with Saudi Arabia, will also be receiving unspecified “advanced standoff weapons” for its fighters, added the same official. The sales have not yet been formally notified to the U.S. Congress, although the Pentagon had consulted with key legislators there, according to the official.