France to Order 12 More Rafale Fighters, 10 NH90 Special Forces Helicopters

(Source:; posted oct. 7, 2020)

PARIS --- France will order "by the end of the year" 12 additional Rafale fighter jets to replace the twelve aircraft that will be taken from the French Air Force inventory and supplied to Greece, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told Parliament’s Defense Committee during an Oct. 6 hearing.

"We fully intend, by the end of the year, to award an order, in parallel with the order for the aircraft ordered by Greece, for up to 12 aircraft for the Air and Space Force,” the minister told MPs during the hearing.

The contract with Greece will be signed by the end of the year and will result in 12 Rafale being taken from the French Air and Space Force fleet next year for delivery to Greece. These aircraft will be replaced in French service by the 12 new-build aircraft. France will also order six additional new-build Rafales for Greece, which is buying a total of 18 Rafales. The Rafale contract with Greece is worth between “one and two billion euros,” according to Agence France Presse.

In addition, Parly also confirmed that she intends to fully implement the 2019-2025 multiyear program law, which calls for 129 Rafale to be in service by 2025. “I would like to reassure you: we had agreed together on a milestone in 2025 with 129 Rafale aircraft, and I fully intend to keep to this commitment," the minister told the committee.

This additional order comes at the right time for Dassault, which risked seeing its Rafale production line interrupted in 2024, once the six new aircraft ordered by Athens had been built.

The company is already under contract to deliver 28 Rafale to France between 2022 and 2024, and the new orders for the 18 new aircraft (12 for France and six for Greece) will keep the production line running into 2025, when the final order for the fourth and final batch of 40 Rafale is expected to be awarded.

Ten NH90 helicopters for Army Special Forces

Parly also revealed to the committee that the Ministry of the Armed Forces had ordered ten additional NH90 helicopters intended the modernize the helicopter fleet of the Army special forces.

"On September 29, the Ministry awarded an order to NH Industries for ten NH90 helicopters to equip the 4th Special Forces Helicopter Regiment (RHFS)," Parly told MPs. This order had long been anticipated but its award was delayed.

NH Industries is a consortium of Airbus Helicopters, Italy’s Leonardo and the Dutch Fokker. This order will also benefit equipment manufacturers Thales and Safran, as well as their subcontractors, some of whom have been hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis in the aeronautics sector, the minister said.

First five NH90s to be delivered in 2025

The first five helicopters of this new order will be delivered in 2025 and the other five the following year, according to the Ministry of the Armed Forces.

The NH90, dubbed Caiman by the French Navy, can transport up to 20 commandos or 2.5 tonnes of equipment. It can also be used for fire support, parachuting or casualty evacuation missions. It is intended to gradually replace the Puma and Cougar helicopters of the French Army.

To date, 24 NH90s have been delivered to the French Navy, which has ordered 27, and 45 to the French Army, which has ordered 74.


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