Armed forces in Europe are bracing themselves for severe cutbacks as governments tackle budget deficit problems. The scale of the cuts is evident in a couple of proposals made public last week. Germany’s defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, has tabled a plan that saves €9.3 billion ($11.7 billion) in the long term, with current fleets and acquisition programs hit hard.
Attempts by India to fast-track the procurement process for its 126-aircraft Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft requirement have come unstuck as the evaluation process has taken far longer than initially expected.
Dassault has reduced the scope of the part-time working arrangement it implemented in September last year in four factories in France. Some 1,400 employees are affected in two factories now, with little impact on their salaries. Company management expects to give the workers their next update in July.
Brazil’s purchase of 36 new fighters has pitted the air force’s preference for the Saab Gripen, backed by a 10-month technical report, against a presidential preference for the Dassault Rafale as part of a “strategic alliance” with France. Second in the air force’s ranking was the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet. According to the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, France reduced the cost of the Rafale package from $12.2 billion to $8.2 billion.
Continued tensions in the Far East and southern Asia are ensuring that the region remains a major sales battleground for the world’s fighter houses. At stake is the sale of several hundred new combat aircraft in the coming years as air arms seek to modernize their forces or, in the case of countries such as Japan and Singapore, stay ahead of the regional threat.
Although the supply of French Rafale combat jets to the UAE was not finalized at the Dubai Airshow, there were plenty of indications that negotiations are going well. In an unusual departure from custom, the former head of the UAE Air Force gave a detailed interview on the progress of the deal to The National, the main newspaper in Abu Dhabi.
Officials from Team Rafale are quietly confident that a deal for up to 60 airplanes will be made with the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, they are signing agreements here at the show with local entities that further strengthen the French influence in Emirati education and industry.
MBDA’s joint venture with Abu Dhabi-based Baynuna Aviation Technology, dubbed Baynuna MBDA Missile Technologies (BMT), has just been incorporated. It was announced in February as a 49-51 effort between the European missile manufacturer and the local company.
French engine maker Snecma (Stand W420) and Baynuna Aviation Technology (BAT), a Abu Dhabi-based defense company, have formed a joint venture called Snecbat Engine Technologies, which will also be based in Abu Dhabi. Snecbat’s capabilities are to include civil and military engines services.
How can the Rafale be produced–and offered for export–at an economic price when the production rate is only about one aircraft per month? Official French statistics give a unit production cost of only ?64- to ?70 million in 2008 prices, depending on variant, excluding amortization of development costs, but including value-added tax of 19.6 percent (which would not be payable on export aircraft).