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Dassault Aviation 1945-1965 - Dassault's Industrial Policy

Over the years, Dassault imposed itself as the only company able to supply combat aircraft corresponding to French defense needs. The aircraft built by Dassault provided the impetus for the whole French aviation industry, both state-owned companies and privately-owned subcontractors. The building of aircraft alone or in partnership for national needs avoided the need to make costly purchases from abroad.

Dassault was always in favor of co-operation as long as it was effective, in other words, as long as the prime contractor retained financial and industrial responsibility. Indeed, in a concern to meet the development needs of his industrial activities without "overblowing" his own production facilities, the Dassault company wove close links with several French and foreign companies. Co-operation processes were highly diverse, ranging from straightforward industrial subcontracting to private financial participation.

The Dassault company has thus, from the time it was set up, followed the same industrial rules in:

  • providing project leadership for its programs, from the development stage to the delivery stage, and then after-sales service, via the industrialization and mass production phases;
  • subcontracting the production of a significant number of series components to subcontractors in France, or sometimes abroad, while reserving 20 to 30% of the airframe, final assembly and flight trials for itself. It basically sought subcontractors for the machining of primary parts and small subassemblies, resorting to medium-sized aviation companies as well as "non aviation" companies, based in the Paris area or in the provinces;
  • independently funding the development of prototypes for combat aircraft (Mirage III, Mirage F-1 or civil aircraft (Mystère-Falcon 20 and 10).
  • consolidating bases abroad and preparing for future sales by entering into partnerships with a considerable number of European firms (notably in Belgium, Italy and Spain) in miscellaneous programs, in various contractual forms.

From the commercial standpoint, a sales and after-sales service was set up and sought to establish bases in each geographical area. These investments were legally tailored to each case, ranging from the 100%-owned subsidiary to a mere understanding with a local company, and including the continuous Dassault delegation. These departments worked with Government departments and with the USIAS (Union syndicale des industries aéronautiques et spatiales).

Derived on the basis of the first Mirage which did not meet requirements and retaining its delta wing, the Mirage III was designed at the end of 1955. For its test pilot, Roland Glavany: "In my opinion, it was on this occasion that Marcel Dassault gave the most brilliant demonstration of his industrial genius:

  • decision to launch a more realistic prototype at his own expenses;
  • but while bring in the authorities to allow him to use the wing of the Mirage I 02 already in production;
  • harass his design office and prototype workshop in working miracles;
  • flight test this prototype a year after taking the decision, on November 17, 1956;
  • impose it on the authorities by virtue of its intrinsic qualities;impose it on the authorities by virtue of its intrinsic qualities;
  • obtain a pre-production order the first aircraft of which, and in fact a new prototype, the Mirage III A 01 flew on May 12, 1958.
This brought together all the qualities of a great industrial entrepreneur".

For general Georges Grimal, chief of the air force's equipment program agency in 1949: "Before the Ouragan, Marcel Dassault was not considered seriously. Afterwards, however, he was taken very seriously, With his great human and technical flair, and his realism and rapidity, he demonstrated that France could make worthwhile achievements in the jet aircraft field. Other companies then began to fade into his shadow and were eclipsed as the projects they presented were incomplete or their aircraft impractical to use. We have placed our confidence in him and his company, and we have not regretted doing so"

Between 1959 and 1965, Dassault and Sud-Aviation worked in partnership on the Community programs, including the Spirale, Voltigeur, Concorde and vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. But it was with the Mystère 20 that they went furthest together. Developed through a program independently funded by Dassault and produced in partnership with Sud-Aviation, the Mystère 20 prototype made its maiden flight on May 4, 1963, in Mérignac. All the aircraft's fuselages were built by the Sud-Aviation factory in Saint-Nazaire.

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