Yet, the next-generation combat aircraft, eagerly awaited by the Navy, will not be operational until 2040 at the earliest. A long wait for the force eyeing to replace its worn fleet.
2024-30 Military Programming Law (LPM)
Interestingly, the LPM of 2024-30 has overlooked the partial renewal of the Rafale M. However, the programming law proposes the development of a Rafale F5 and a loyal wingman type combat drone. It's clear the goal is to boost the fighter aircraft fleet to a total of 225 Rafale by 2035.
Allocations to the AAE
While the Navy is keen to renew its fleet, the AAE is set to host 137 Rafale B/C by 2030. Furthermore, between 2030 and 2035, Dassault Aviation is slated to deliver an additional 47 aircraft.
With the Navy's needs growing, the fifth production batch of 42 aircraft, including 12 that will replace those given to Croatia, remains unconfirmed. However, the planning of a sixth production batch of Rafale is underway.
The LPM 2024-30 foresees a fleet of 225 combat aircraft divided between the AAE and the Navy. This growth in Rafale numbers in French forces will be realized through the 4th, 5th, and 6th production batches. The 4th batch was ordered in 2009, the 5th is expected shortly, and the 6th is yet to be defined.
Plan for Rafale C and M Retirement
When defining the 6th production batch, the retirement timeline for Rafale C and M models will be considered. Moreover, guaranteeing a credible airborne nuclear component will be prioritized in this batch.