Interview with the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

March 2023

Éric Trappier

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Aviation

What was the most exciting development for Dassault Aviation in 2022?

2022 will go down as a record year for Dassault in terms of new orders: an all-time high of 21 billion euros. This figure represents 64 Falcons and 92 Rafales, 80 of which were ordered by the United Arab Emirates, in what is the largest contract ever secured by Dassault Aviation. Our order book now stands at 35 billion euros, another all-time high, which amounts to a total of 251 aircraft: 87 Falcons and 164 Rafales. This means we can plan ahead for the next 10 years, which is a rare and enviable outlook in the aviation industry. We will be manufacturing 35 Falcons and 15 Rafales in 2023. This may seem like a low figure, considering the magnitude of the orders mentioned above, but it is important to remember that, on account of the production cycle, it takes at least three years from the time a contract comes into effect until the first aircraft are delivered. The Rafales scheduled for delivery between 2023 and 2025 are mainly intended to fill an order placed in 2009 and staggered over time by the French government for budgetary reasons. Thereafter, we are aiming for a production rate of three aircraft per month. To achieve this ramp-up, we are actively recruiting new employees, on top of the 1,560 we hired in 2022. We are also working to secure our industrial ecosystem in the face of the fallout from the war in Ukraine: issues such as energy, raw materials, components and inflation are affecting a supply chain that was already under pressure due to the Covid crisis.

How do you explain the fact that the Rafale has added seven new export markets in the past seven years?

The Rafale’s time has come. The figures speak for themselves: the total number of orders placed since the program began is 453 - 477 if you include the pre-owned fighters purchased by Greece and Croatia. Our export rate has reached 60%, which is better than the Mirage 2000 (50%) and not far behind the Mirage F1 (66%), which was typical of fighter export ratios during the Cold War. And we’re not done yet: many countries are in talks with us. We also expect to receive an order from the French government for a further batch of 42 fighters by the end of 2023, as provided for in the current French military spending bill.

The Rafale is a multirole fighter, capable of carrying one-and-a-half times its empty weight in fuel and weaponry, but it is also a very reasonable aircraft in terms of size and cost; a combat-proven fighter; a system designed to be operated from land bases as well as aircraft carriers; and a fighter jet that is 100% French, but fully interoperable with other Western systems.