Interview: C Edelstenne CEO of Dassault Aviation
Le Figaro , Dec 12
Despite repeated criticism about its financial weight, the Rafale is the only program of this magnitude whose costs were controlled by a constant effort of the DGA and industry, despite a delay of ten years because of constraints on our public finances. In this regard, I recently read an article mentioning a slightly increase in the cost of the program when it was only a cost update in the economic value of the year. All these elements must be handled carefully to not mislead readers into error. According to the Ministry of Defence, the Rafale has remained in its original blueprint, the price range increasing only by 4.7%,
while its competitors have experienced uncontrolled excesses of their costs. The British Court of Auditors, the NAO, denounced the years drift of 75% of the European EF-2000. For those who still have regrets about leaving the France of this program, it should be understood that such a choice would have increased by nearly 50% the cost to the taxpayer in relation to the Rafale. The US F-35, meanwhile, under the control of Congress for a drift of more than 77% of its costs since its launch in 2002. And development is not finished: this program is qualified besides on the other side of the Atlantic the “trillion programs “.
Given the operational quality of the aircraft, the commitment of the staff of our company, you will understand that my impatience to export the Rafale could be even greater than the one of the press!
[...]Just for UAE, more than 100 people from Dassault Aviation, and I do not count those of our co-operators Thales and Snecma, are mobilized in the Rafale negotiations for over two years. Do you think I would spend so much energy just to make up the numbers if I was not convinced?
The effects of style about the exportability of the Rafale are ridiculous. What are we talking about? First, it's international competition where our main competitors are American and have a mechanical bonus of competitiveness of 40% thanks the euro-dollar parity. Second, sales of combat aircraft, because they touch the heart of state sovereignty, are primarily sales where the political dimension is crucial. The United States put their political weight in the balance to prevent the export of the Rafale. They know they would mortgage the future of this industry in France and Europe. They would gain a double monopoly, military of course, but also technologic as aeronautics irrigates, the technologies it develops, entire sectors of the economy.
I also note that the press reports judicial probe in connection with sales of some of our competitors, these probe have sometimes been stopped by local authorities themselves [he's talking of Blair about Saudi Arabia] . I want to make a point of recalling that our company, which operates in the whole world, obeys the law voted by the elected representatives of our nation.
The traditional market of French combat aircraft consists of countries that do not want to buy American aircraft or countries which want a double source. Competitions were held in South Korea, Singapore and the Netherlands. In these countries, the air forces are now only equipped with American planes. These countries have always had very close ties with the United States, for geostrategic reasons with respect to Korea or Singapore. For reasons of comfort in the Netherlands, a founding member of the European Union, but a fierce supporter of the American preference for what is their combat aviation, remember the market of the century! We may have erred in taking part in these early competitions, where our chances were, from the start, rather limited. But if we did not, nobody would have understood. Each time, we eliminated the EF2000 and we ended up in short list against American planes.
The 3 most advanced prospects are UAE, India and Brazil. Let's start with the UAE. Since 2008 we are in negotiations with that country. The UAE is a client partner who has always called upon to do better. Negotiations are continuing and the company is working to develop local partnerships which should strengthen the strategic relationship between our two countries on the basis of an industrial and technological cooperation extended around the Rafale.
In India, we are in the final stages against the EF2000 of EADS. I will not comment on those negotiations, but I want to emphasize the interest of Dassault Aviation for this historic customer of the French combat aviation. We are committed to addressing the concerns of independence and sovereignty of the Indians, which want to build an industrial base already very efficient.
Finally, in Brazil, the voluntarism of the French president has allowed the Rafale to be considered at the highest level by the Brazilian authorities. President Rousseff decided to freeze the procurement process in light of the global economic situation. We expect the resume of the competition for 2012. We do of course not remain inactive and we again, because this is the ambition of the Brazilian authorities, multiplied agreements and technology partnerships with universities and industry to ensure our Brazilian officials we will fully transfer the know-how and technologies that will ensure Brazil's sovereignty over its air force.
The Swiss military authorities, through a rigorous process of evaluation, have acclaimed the Rafale for the adequacy of its performance taking into consideration their operational need. Moreover, the report published in the Swiss press emphasizes the preeminence of the Rafale over its two competitors. The Federal Council has announced the choice of the Gripen NG, the lowest ranked of the three planes in the running. But the choice of a fighter is always a political choice which also takes into account the quality of bilateral relations. And these, you know, are not looking good right now ...