Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Eurofighter are all gearing up for Japan’s new fighter competition, but Dassault Aviation – another stalwart in the global fighter campaigns now unfolding – opted not to play. Why?
Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Charles Edelstenne is not shy about saying the he did not want to play the role of a stalking horse. “Our belief is that the Japanese have issued the RFP only to have some rabbit for the Americans to chase.” But that’s not a role he wants to be in. “We are not ready to spend millions [on a campaign] only to be used as a rabbit for the Americans.”
Instead, Dassault remains focused on other potential export orders, with competitions in India, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates the highest profile. Which does Edelstenne rate the most important? The one he signs first, he quips, noting that the decision timelines are dictated by the government.
Each of the competitions has its own intricacies. India, for instance, has placed huge demands on bidders – now down to the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale – in terms of industrial offsets. Edelstenne acknowledges that the “compensation is really very tough. It will be very difficult to answer to this request.” However, he’s not scared. “We will negotiate,” he says. “First of all, I want to be chosen, and then we will negotiate.”
As for the UAE – perhaps the longest-running campaign for the Rafale – Edelstenne notes the 9 metric ton thrust version of the M88 engine is available. What is more, a Dassault official notes the that ground moving target indicator radar modes the UAE has expressed interest in – they are not required by the French customer – could be easily provided by Thales, since it already has demonstrated those capabilities on Mirage 2000s.