Net sales at Dassault Aviation jumped 44.4% to EUR7.3 billion (USD8 billion) in 2019 mainly due to record-high deliveries of Rafale multirole fighters, according to the French company.

Defence net sales totalled EUR5.1 billion, more than doubling from 2018, the company said on 27 February.

Dassault’s defence order intake grew 24.9% to EUR3.4 billion, as increased French defence orders, including support and upgrade work on the Rafale, more than offset lower defence export orders. The French manufacturer reported a net profit up 24.5% in 2019, reaching €713 million.

Dassault’s operating income rose 14.3% to USD765 million last year. Its workforce grew 11% to 12,757 employees.

While in 2019, Dassault Aviation could count on the record delivery of 26 Rafale fighter jets abroad to lift its financial results, uncertainty could compromise sales in the upcoming year.

Defence exports represented 58% of the revenue for 2019, with the delivery of 26 Rafale fighter jets to Qatar, Egypt, and India (36) in 2019, against nine delivered in 2018. Exportation revenue reached €4.2 billion, up from €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) in 2018. However, deliveries should drop by half in 2020.

The internal defence market was underwhelming, at €887 million ($970 million) in 2019 against €1 billion ($1.090 billion) the previous year. Dassault did not deliver any Rafale fighter jets to the French Air Force this year, and should not do so before 2022.

The Falcon program also plateaued. Dassault expected to deliver 45 Falcon business jets over the year, but only delivered 40, one less than in 2018, due to “difficult market conditions”. Falcon revenue dropped from €2.6 billion ($2.8 billion) in 2018 to €2.2 billion ($2.4 billion) in 2019.

Self-funded research and development surged 34.4% to EUR527 million due to the “simultaneous development of two Falcon programmes”: the 6X, which is scheduled to enter service in 2022, and the Future Falcon, which has not yet been formally announced, the company said.

Both politicians and defence industry leaders in France have understood that without exports they cannot afford to provide France’s own armed forces with the most innovative and high-performing weapons. Furthermore, buying weapons from the United States brings red tape, including requirement for congressional authorization on all foreign military sales, which can delay the process and some argue shackle France’s sovereignty.