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Rafale roars in defence spending splurge

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 02:27

A rise in geopolitical tension is shining a spotlight on defence spending at the 2015 Paris Air Show, with Dassault's Rafale fighter jet leading the charge for orders. But as Ivor Bennett reports, the future is not so certain for the troubled Airbus A400M.

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It certainly hasn't lost its wow factor. But Airbus may need more than a few aerial stunts to restore customer confidence in its A400M. Last month's fatal crash in Spain casting doubts over whether the plane would even appear here at all. Early indications suggest it was caused by a software error. Four of the six crew killed after three engines froze minutes into a pre-delivery test flight. But Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier is confident it won't dent orders. SOUNDBITE (English) FABRICE BREGIER, CEO AND PRESIDENT, AIRBUS, SAYING: "There is no competitor to the A400M which is by far the most modern military transport aircraft. So there will be a big export market, I'm convinced of it." That much is true. A rise in geopolitical tensions like IS and Ukraine has put defence spending in the spotlight in Paris. Dassault's Rafale fighter jet one of those cashing in. SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "It took Dassault over two decades to get their first order for the Rafale, but in the last three months they've taken nearly 100. That hype has made it one of the star show's at this year's Paris Air Show, along with it's engines." The Rafale's roar has reverberated around the market after orders from Egypt, Qatar and India. Triggered in part by a rift between the US and its Gulf allies, says aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia. SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD ABOULAFIA, AVIATION ANALYST, TEAL GROUP, SAYING: "It's made them mindful of the need to dual source their weapons procurement decisions. Simultaneously, you've got an increasing isolationism in Britain, and an awareness that France is actually being a bit more aggressive, a bit more muscular with their foreign and strategic policy. Maybe they'd make a better strategic relation partner. So in other words, this is the very epicentre of French foreign policy right now." That fact was highlighted by a visit from Francois Hollande. The French President saying he had big hopes for future export contracts. So too Dassault CEO Eric Trappier. SOUNDBITE (English) ERIC TRAPPIER, CEO, DASSAULT AVIATION, SAYING: "Success leads to success. So I think that there are other countries and mainly, again, Mirage 2000 customers who are going to drive their decision for the coming years with Rafale selection. So I am totally convinced that new orders are coming for Rafale." Talks are already under way with Malaysia and the UAE. And judging by the interest here, the orders won't end there.

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Rafale roars in defence spending splurge

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 02:27