The French defense industry is being redefined as France prepares to emerge from the coronavirus crisis


By Pierre Tran

Paris – Dassault Aviation has resumed training flights for Indian pilots on the Rafale fighter jet as the aircraft manufacturer seeks to meet contract requirements despite the deadly spread of the coronavirus.

“In Mérignac, the activities (conversion training center) started on Monday with a daily mission for two Indian Rafales, in order to meet our contractual delivery obligations”, said executive president Eric Trappier on April 8 in a note to staff on the company’s website. .

Mérignac is the main Dassault factory, a suburb of Bordeaux, in the southwest of France.

Flights also resumed with the ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft and the Falcon 900 light jet, both from Istres, southern France, he said.

The national quarantine will be extended for another four weeks until May 11, said President Emmanuelle Macron in a program broadcast to the nation on April 13, when he called for strict and continuous observation of the lockout.

On training flights, the authorities of Mérignac had posted a schedule to respond to local noise concerns, with Indian pilots having to fly between October 2019 and March 2021, with takeoff and landing from Bordeaux airport, from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (local hour).

Qatari pilots carried out their Rafale training missions from April 8 to June 7, 2019, with three to four flights per week, said the Mérignac website.

France is scheduled to deliver the next Rafale to India in May and it remains to be seen whether the transfer will go as planned, given the uncertainty triggered by the pandemic, an industry source said.

This government-to-government agreement Rafale led to the official delivery on October 8 of the first plane of the Indian order for 36 units, worth approximately 7.9 billion euros ($ 8.7 billion) .

Customers normally pay the last installment on an agreement when delivery has taken place. This payment will be welcome given the tensions resulting from the stoppage of production.

Industrial reset

Dassault’s industrial redevelopment follows the requirements of the Ministry of Defense and the procurement office of the French Defense Procurement Agency, Trappier said in a video to staff.

The return to production reflects the priorities agreed with customers, he said. The top priority was to support the French forces, piloting Rafale and Mirage 2000 combat aircraft and ATL2 aircraft. The development of certain programs would also be continued.

Export customers are also important, especially India, which is experiencing severe effects from the pandemic, he said.

The company has adopted text messages to keep staff up to date.

Dassault has gradually reopened its nine factories and offices across the country.

ATL2 flights concern a program to upgrade the combat system to standard 6. This modernization covers 18 units, Dassault improving the first seven and the maintenance center for SIAé aircraft working on the remaining 11 units.

The upgrade included the Thales Search Master radar with active antenna, an acoustic subsystem for sonar buoys for anti-submarine warfare and a Dassault navigation console. There are also new consoles developed by SIAé and information processing software from Naval Group.

The first two upgraded ATL2s were delivered last October, with the last upgrade scheduled for 2023.

Save money

In the financial disturbance, Thales announced on April 7 that it was canceling the planned final dividend of 2019 of 430 million euros to save money, and signed a bank loan of 2 billion euros to improve the access to funds. This bank loan was available for 12 months, with the possibility of an extension of six months.

These funds add up to 2.9 billion euros in cash and cash equivalents and a credit facility of 1.5 billion euros.

In France, there have been 14,967 deaths from Covid-19, with 137,779 confirmed cases, according to John Hopkins University.

Among the dead, 5,379 were in nursing homes and 9,588 were in hospitals, Le Monde reported in the afternoon on April 14. The health ministry said that on April 13, 335 deaths had been recorded in the past 24 hours, compared to 310 on Sunday.

Among the measures announced by Macron in its dissemination, note the distribution of face masks to the general public and the reopening of schools and colleges from May 11. Museums, restaurants and cinemas will remain closed under control.

Macron sought to inspire hope in his speech and his speech was seen as an attempt to show a softer, more human face than his previous program, which invoked a martial spirit with six references to war.

“The results are there,” he said. “Several regions have been spared. In the past few days, the number of people in intensive care has decreased.

“Hope is reborn. “

Featured photo: GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

In an article by Eszter Zalan published in the EUObserver on April 15, 2020, the general challenge of returning Europeans to a certain form of normalcy in the workplace was underlined.

The EU commission, on Wednesday 15 April 2020, is expected to put in place a set of recommendations for EU countries to better coordinate easing measures to avoid spillovers between member states.

Although the EU executive cannot force member states to act in unison, it wants to make sure that countries take into account the situation of neighboring countries, according to a spokesperson.

The recommendations call on member states to inform each other and the committee before the measures are relaxed.

He warns that “any level of gradual relaxation” of the measures will “inevitably” lead to an increase in new cases of coronavirus.

He argues for a gradual easing, starting small and local, with the opening of schools and universities, while restaurants and mass events should only be allowed at a later stage. The EU’s internal borders should open before its external borders are accessible again.

The EU executive argues that three conditions must be met to relax the restrictions: “the spread of the disease has decreased considerably over an extended period of time”, the health system has sufficient capacity and effective monitoring, including large-scale testing.

The commission also recommends tracing contacts through the use of mobile apps, which should respect data privacy and be optional.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday called for a single smartphone app to be used across the EU.

Countries should also be ready to revise their approach if more data arrives or if there is a risk of a new wave of spread, the commission said.

“We will have to live with the virus until a vaccine or treatment is found,” said the commission document.

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