By Pierre Tran
Paris – Industry and government are still in contract talks for studies on a technology demonstrator for a European fighter jet, Dassault Aviation said in a July 22 statement on first-half financial results.
“The contract for phase 1B (under negotiation) is still to be signed,” the company said.
“This will cover all the work carried out jointly between France, Germany and Spain until 2024.”
The contract for phase 1B studies includes a demonstrator for a New Generation Fighter, a core element in the planned Future Combat Air System, backed by the three partner nations. Dassault is prime contractor on the planned fighter, which will effectively compete with the planned Tempest fighter jet, to be built by Britain, Italy and Sweden.
The companies on the Tempest project are in pursuit of a contract for concept and assessment work in the next few weeks, business daily Financial Times reported June 18, with a signing marking the first big step in launching the fighter, led by the UK and BAE Systems.
Meanwhile, talks “are being finalized” with the Direction Générale de l’Armement procurement office on intellectual property rights on FCAS, Dassault said.
The German parliamentary budget committee approved last month Berlin’s share of an overall budget of €4.5 billion (US5.3 billion) for the phase 1B studies on the FCAS, just in time before the Bundestag closed for the summer recess and before general elections to be held in September.
The phase 1A studies on the FCAS demonstrators and the new fighter are continuing, Dassault said, with the focus on aerodynamics. The first wind tunnel tests are due to be held in September. The phase 1A studies began in February last year.
The joint concept study for FCAS, launched in January last year, is due to end soon, the company said.
Meanwhile, Airbus has negotiated a contract with the OCCAR European arms procurement office for a European medium-altitude, long-endurance drone, and that is due to be signed in the second half of the year, Dassault said, with the French company leading work on flight controls and mission communications.
On an Egyptian order for a further 30 Rafale fighter jets, that deal was excluded from the first-half financial results as Cairo has yet to pay the down payment, the company said. That order, once confirmed, will bring the Rafale fleet to 54 units for the Egyptian air force.
Egypt is expected to pay a 15 percent down payment on the latest deal, worth €3.95 billion, website Disclose reported. That deal includes the fighters and weapons from MBDA and Safran Electronics and Defense.
Greece took delivery July 21 its first of an order for 18 Rafales, with the Greek defense minister, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, attending a ceremony at Istres flight test center, Dassault said in a statement. That was the first of 12 secondhand Rafales to be sent from the French air force, to be followed by six new units to be built by Dassault.
The company delivered 13 Rafales for export, split between Egypt and Qatar.
Dassault reported operating profit rising to €175 million from €55 million a year ago, boosted by lower spending of own funds on research and development and higher net sales. The Covid 19 pandemic hit profit and sales in the first half last year.
The margin of operating profit over sales rose to 5.6 percent from 2.1 percent.
Net profit rose to €265 million from €87 million, with the contribution from its stake in Thales rising to €146 million from €85 million. Dassault holds a 25 percent stake in the electronics company.
The net profit margin rose to 8.5 percent from 3.3 percent.
Sales rose to €3.1 billion from €2.6 billion, with exports accounting for 87 percent. Orders rose to €3.9 billion from €984 million, raising the order book to €16.7 billion from €15.9 billion. Exports accounted for 82 percent of orders.
Cash holdings rose to €3.5 billion from €3.4 billion.
Dassault has sought to protect its intellectual property rights on technology to develop the fighter demonstrator – the background – but is ready to share technology on building the fighter – the foreground.
The company maintained a forecast of delivery of 25 Rafales and 25 Falcon business jets for the full year. The R&D bill on development of the Falcon 6X and 10 X jets had weighed on the balance sheet.