French Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace News & Discussion


The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
The French Air and Space Force performed a long-range power projection exercise last week.

In this exercise called HEIFARA a group of 3 Rafale F3R and 2 A400M Atlas supported by 2 A330 MRTT Phenix flew from France to Tahiti (French Polynesia) over a distance of 17,000 km, performed an initial entry raid into contested airspace culminating in tactical strikes, then after "securing" an airfield - 39 hours after departure from France - performed high-intensity missions with 40 sorties over the next 5 days - reconnaissance, escort and strike sorties for the Rafales, tactical transport, SAR and (real) logistics missions for the A400M; including support missions for army ground forces and French Navy in the theater.

The A330MRTT, besides air-to-air refueling, also transported a company-sized expeditionary ground support element and upon entry to the theater established a satcom datalink for direct reachback from the fighters to a command center established in Lyon. The two A400M took along 30 tons of material from France to Tahiti.

The flight to Tahiti was performed with a single stopover in California, also establishing the longest-duration nonstop flight for Rafales so far - 12 hours for about 10,000 km, with 7 air-to-air refuelings.

HEIFARA is a test exercise, and part of an escalating series of similar missions over the past couple years, representing an important step in them. The target is to perform a full-scale exercise in 2023 that will test the full power projection level of ambition of the AdAedE. That level of ambition is to project a combat force of 20 Rafales over a distance of 20,000 km - i.e. globally - within 48 hours at any time, supported by up to 10 A330 MRTT.

You can find a detailed official press dossier on the exercise here (in English).

Official teaser video:


Super Moderator
Staff member
Looks like the French are not having much luck lately , from Daily Sabah:

France cancels meeting with Swiss president over jet order | Daily Sabah

Swiss decide to order the F-35 instead of the Rafale - not sure how this reaction achieves much really.
I have no means of verification but according to a source, both the French government and Parmelin’s office at the economic affairs ministry denied that the meeting had been officially cancelled, stressing that the scheduling had not been completed. “It was never cancelled and especially not due to the reasons mentioned,” the Elysee Palace in Paris said.

Sandhi Yudha

Well-Known Member
France has ordered 42 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation in a deal worth more than €5 billion (U.S. $5,5 billion). The new aircraft, meant for the Air and Space Force, will be one-seater versions and fitted to the F4 production standard, for which development started in 2018.

One of the reasons these addidtional Rafales are ordered is because the Future Combat Air System, isn’t expected to enter service before 2045 or 2050, according to the French Senate’s defense committee.



The Bunker Group

Dasault increases Rafale production to 3 planes monthly. This increase the capacity more than double from historic trend of only 11-16 planes annualy. Raise questions on French Aero Industry supply chain capacities, and also availability of trained Man Power.

This seems related to potential new order not only from existing customers, but also from new ones in Gulf and Asia. The article practically state that this will bring Dasault capacity close to US and China fighter production line. Still even if with production line increase to 3 planes monthly, this still bring new customers order being delivered around 60 months delivery (my calculation base on recent new orders).

Not bad for Fighter project that some pundits just less then a decade ago, believe already loosing competition.