Dassault Aviation has signed a contract for the sale of 12 Rafale fighter jets to the French Air and Space Force (FASF).

The contract was signed on 29 January by Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier and French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly.

Parly was on a visit to the Argonay plant in Haute-Savoie, which has been producing flight control systems for all Dassault aircraft since 1963.

The new Rafales will serve as the replacement of the 12 aircraft that were sold to the Air Force of Greece.

Manufactured by Dassault Aviation, Rafale is a twin-jet, multirole combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short and long-range missions, including ground and sea attacks.

It was developed for the French Navy and French Air Force and is capable of performing ground and sea attacks, reconnaissance, high-accuracy strikes and nuclear strike deterrence.

Eric Trappier said: “This contract for 12 new aircraft will enable our air and space force to continue the Rafale build-up while awaiting the fifth tranche, which is scheduled for delivery between 2027 and 2030.

“The contract is a great satisfaction for Dassault Aviation, Thales, Safran and the 500 French companies involved in the program, in the particularly difficult conditions facing our aeronautics sector in the context of the Covid crisis.”

In 2004, Rafale entered service with the French Navy and with the FASF in 2006.

The fighter aircraft is used in combat operations across various nations, including Afghanistan, Mali, Libya, Syria, and Iraq. Egypt, Qatar, India and Greece also ordered the aircraft.

In July 2019, France announced plans to develop a weapons system to defend French satellites in an effort to close the gap on developments by other countries.