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Make in India: Dassault faces massive backlog orders for Rafale jets; Eyes India’s DRAL Facility for manufacturing the French Fighter

Source : IgMp Bureau

Make in India: Dassault faces massive backlog orders for Rafale jets; Eyes India's DRAL Facility for manufacturing the French Fighter

French aviation giant Dassault faces a significant challenge with a massive backlog of Rafale fighter jets. By the end of 2023, the backlog stood at 211 jets, with 141 designated for export and 70 for the French Air Force. The company aims to increase production from 13 to 20 jets per year to address this backlog, but even at this accelerated rate, it would take a decade to clear the current queue. This extended wait time could deter potential new customers seeking swift deliveries.

Hurdles to Higher Production

Several obstacles stand in the way of achieving a higher production rate. Dassault is grappling with an engineering talent shortage within its supply chain, hindering its ability to scale up production. Additionally, many suppliers are reluctant to invest in expanding their workforces, factories, and tooling due to concerns about the sustainability of a high production rate and the risk of excess capacity if demand decreases in the future.

India’s Role in the Solution

Dassault views India as a crucial partner in addressing its backlog. With a potential order for 27 Rafale M jets in 2024, India represents a significant market. To facilitate the outsourcing of Rafale components, Dassault has proposed taking over Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL), a joint venture with the Reliance Group. Furthermore, establishing a second production line in India, utilizing DRAL’s Nagpur facility, could help alleviate the backlog.

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Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL) facility in Nagpur, India.

Long-Term Commitment to Clearing the Backlog

Dassault envisions the second production line in India producing 6-8 Rafales annually. While this may not provide an immediate solution to the backlog, it demonstrates Dassault’s commitment to addressing the issue and fulfilling future orders, including those from India. The success of this strategy will depend on Dassault’s ability to overcome its production bottlenecks and effectively manage its supply chain.

Conclusion

Dassault’s Rafale fighter jet backlog poses a significant challenge, but the company is exploring innovative solutions to address it. By partnering with India and leveraging DRAL’s facilities, Dassault aims to increase production and reduce the backlog over time. The success of these efforts will not only impact Dassault’s ability to fulfill existing orders but also its competitiveness in securing new ones.

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