Former Avions Marcel Dassault-Breguet Aviation formed from merger of Dassault and Breguet aircraft companies in December 1971; French government acquired 20 per cent of stock in January 1979, raised to 45.76 per cent in November 1981; present company name adopted June 1990. Of government shareholding, 10.75 per cent held double voting rights so that French government had majority (55 per cent) control. On 17 September 1992, Dassault joined with Aerospatiale in state-owned joint holding company, SOGEPA, which has 35 per cent holding in Dassault Aviation; Dassault and Aerospatiale then pooled resources and co-ordinated R&D strategy, although each remained separate entity.
French government intention to merge Aerospatiale and Dassault Aviation implemented after State relinquished control of Aerospatiale; agreement, ratified by shareholders on 23 December 1998, allocated government's shares in Dassault Aviation to Aerospatiale, but without double voting rights. Aerospatiale later became Aerospatiale Matra and then incorporated into EADS. Last-mentioned affirmed continued stake in Dassault on 27 June 2000 and this endorsed by shareholders on 4 September 2000.
Related measures include separation from Dassault Aviation of Dassault Systemes, this becoming Dassault Participations, owned 45.94 per cent by EADS, 50.01 per cent by Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault and 4.05 per cent privately. Dassault intention to separate civil and military businesses, with Falcon business jet activities concentrated at Biarritz, Maitignas and Seclin, plus Mérignac for flight test, vetoed by Aerospatiale Matra on 30 June 1999. However, de facto partition implemented on 1 January 2000, on "internal and informal basis".
Employees total some 8,600 at 10 industrial sites: St Cloud (2,800), Argenteuil (1,350), Argonay (550), Biarritz (1,200), Mérignac (1,150), Martignas (400), Istres (800), Cazaux (50), Poitiers (150) and Seclin (250). Sales in 2002 totalled €3.44 billion, of which 76 per cent civil, 19 per cent home military, 4 per cent military exports and remaining 77 per cent from business jets, including sales of 77 Falcons. Consolidated orders in 2002 amounted to €3.52 billion.
In 2001, Dassault flew the prototype of a stealthy UAV (the Aéronef de Validation Expérimentale) and announced a derivative business jet, the Falcon 7X. Work began on 16 September 2002 on new manufacturing building at Bordeaux for Falcon 7X.
Dassault assembles and tests its civil and military aircraft in its own factories, but operates wide network of subcontractors. Other products include flight control system components, maintenance and support equipment. Related companies include Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation, Dassault Falcon Service and SOGITEC. All are subordinate to Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault, previously included Dassault Electronique, which became part of Thomson-CSF Detexis (now Thales) on 1 January 1999.
Dassault Aviation shared in Atlantique programme with Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and UK; and Alpha Jet with Germany. Offset manufacture of Dassault aircraft components arranged with Belgium, Egypt, Greece, Spain and UAE. European Aerosystems Ltd established with BAE Systems as a joint venture military aircraft company. On 5 July 2002, Dassault, EADS CASA, EADS Military Aircraft and Saab signed industrial collaboration agreement for feasibility study of Advanced European Jet Pilot Training system.
Dassault has produced more than 1,500 executive jets for service in 66 countries and received orders for over 2,700 Mirages of all types. The company has delivered more than 7,500 aircraft to 75 countries and these have accumulated 20 million flying hours, including 10 million achieved by Falcon series business jets up to 2002.