Strengthening relations, UAE buys 80 French-made Rafale fighters

French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris
French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a protective mask, waits for guests at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 1, 2021. REUTERS / Sarah Meyssonnier

December 3, 2021

By John Irish

DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates placed an order for 80 Rafale fighter jets on Friday, the largest order ever for the fighter type, an arms deal worth billions of dollars in deepening economic and political ties with France.

French President Emmanuel Macron began a two-day tour of the Gulf on Friday, also visiting Qatar and Saudi Arabia. His visit comes at a time when Gulf Arab states express uncertainty about the United States’ focus on the region even as they seek more weapons from their key security ally.

The French leader has built a good relationship with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MBZ) with investments flowing between the two countries. Paris has a permanent military base in the capital of the Emirates.

“In addition to the presence of three French military bases on the territory of the UAE, this mutual trust also translates into the purchase of 80 Rafale aircraft, 12 Caracal helicopters and related elements,” the French President said. know in a statement after the signing ceremony between MBZ and Macron on the sidelines of Expo Dubai 2020.

Dassault shares rose 6% on the day of the announcement.

The deal, which could be worth at least $15 billion, is the largest purchase of a Rafale made by Dassault, not by the French military, and follows deals in Greece and Egypt. and Croatia this year.

Negotiations over the Rafale fighter jet have been going on for more than a decade with Abu Dhabi publicly rejecting France’s offer of 60 Rafale fighters in 2011 as “uncompetitive and untenable” workable”. Abu Dhabi already has Mirage fighters.

Defense sources say the Rafale will replace the Mirage 2000 fleet and is unlikely to replace the US F-35 as the UAE continues to protect its security with two major suppliers, France and the US.

(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Tim Hepher, Karishma Singh and David Evans) Strengthening relations, UAE buys 80 French-made Rafale fighters


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