Jan. 14 (UPI) — France’s government on Monday signed a $2.3 billion contract for 28 Rafale fighter jets from French -headquartered Dassault Aviation.
The 28 aircraft, which will include some F4 functionalities, will be delivered to the French air force in 2023, Defense News reported. And Defense Minister Florence Parly announced that another 30 aircraft at the full F4 standard would be ordered in 2023 for delivery between 2027 and 2030.
The jets are the only ones in the world capable of operating from a land base or an aircraft carrier, the company said in a news release. It can carry 1.5 times its weight in weapons and fuel.
Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, received the F4-standard development contract during a visit at the Dassault Aviation plant in Merignac by Florence Parly, the French minister of the armed forces.
“The F4 standard guarantees that Rafale will remain at world-class level so that our combat air forces can carry out all their missions with optimum efficiency, whether in coalition operations or completely independently, as required by the French nuclear deterrent,” Trappier said. “This new standard also guarantees that Rafale will remain a credible reference on the export market.”
The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006.
The company said new functions will improve the aircraft’s capabilities, including the radar and front sector optronics sensors, helmet-mounted display and the integration of new air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. Also, better “networked combat” abilities will be incorporated with new satellite and intra-patrol links.
Payloads on the aircraft can include the Scalp missiles.
“Dassault Aviation and the 500 French firms associated with the Rafale program thank the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the defense procurement agency, the French air force and the French navy for their confidence,” the company said in a news release.