In 2008, it was announced that talks were being held between France and the United Arab Emirates for the sale of 60 Rafale aircraft. As a result, this file went through many turns… And even if four years after the start of the talks a signature seemed imminent, no contract was signed.
Then-Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated in October 2012 that selling Rafale to Abu Dhabi was no longer a priority, stating that this act had “poisoned” relations between France and the Emirates. “Our relationship has been torn apart for eighteen months. […] My goal is to restore confidence,” he said.
Since then, the Rafale has received its first export contracts, notably to countries close to the United Arab Emirates, such as Egypt and Greece. In addition, Dassault Aviation’s aircraft has evolved to the point where it now meets most of the Emirates’ requirements, including the integration of an active antenna radar [AESA] and that of the METEOR long-range air-to-air missile.
Furthermore, and while Abu Dhabi is also negotiating the acquisition of 50 F-35A generation 5 aircraft from the United States, the Rafale is again of interest to the Emirati Air Force… To the point that last week the Weekly Challenges reported that the signing of a contract for the delivery of 60 aircraft a priori to F4 standard is imminent. And to specify that this sale could happen thanks to President Macron’s official visit to the United Emirates on December 2nd.
As a reminder, the Emirates Air Force is currently implementing nearly 60 Mirage 2000-9 [dont la reprise était l’une des conditions pour l’achat de Rafale, en 2012, ndlr] and 78 F-16s.
Guest of the morning of Europe1, this November 23rd, in his capacity as President of the UIMM [Union des industries et métiers de la métallurgie]Éric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, never missed a question about this potential Rafale order from Abu Dhabi.
“Tenacity” is in Dassault Aviation’s “DNA” and “so we fought. Today’s recognition of the Rafale’s success, both in service with the French Armed Forces and for export, is attested. It’s a very good thing that will continue for years to come,” argued Mr Trappier first, after welcoming the entry into force of the contract signed by Egypt for 30 more Rafales.
At first, Mr. Trappier did not want to comment on the possible order from the United Arab Emirates. But in the end he recalled that Dassault Aviation “has been working for many years” to secure this deal with Abu Dhabi… And by being “optimistic”.
“I’m always optimistic. We may have more good news in a certain number of countries,” the Dassault Aviation CEO concluded on the question.
As a reminder, the countries in question are Croatia [qui a déjà annoncé son intention de se procurer 12 Rafale F3R d’occasion]Finland [avec l’appel d’offres HX]India [qui souhaite acquérir 110 appareils pour l’Indian Air Force et 57 pour l’Indian Navy] and Indonesia, which Army Minister Florence Parly said would be interested in buying 36 Rafales.
Only, and even if France and Indonesia signed an agreement to strengthen their military cooperation last June, Jakarta still has not ordered a Rafale, the French plane is being weighed against Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Viper. The question of financing will be crucial.
So, according to Intelligence Online, it will happen through… the Gulf. In fact, Paris is betting that the United Arab Emirates will help Indonesia financially…while the United States is counting on Qatar, with whom relations are good, especially since the Kabul evacuation.