The Emirates on Friday signed a deal with France to buy 80 Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation.
On the occasion of Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Dubai, France and the United Arab Emirates on Friday signed a contract for the purchase of 80 Rafale F4 aircraft from Dassault Aviation, Elysée announced. This number is much higher than that of the first tender, which stated a need of 63 devices. This order is the largest international order received for the fighter since it entered service in 2004.
In addition to the Rafales, the Emirates have also signed an agreement to purchase 12 Caracal helicopters. “This is a great achievement of the strategic partnership between the two countries,” welcomed the French Presidency in a press release. Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, for her part, invoked “a historic treaty”.
For his part, Eric Trappier, CEO of Daussault Aviation, hailed “a French success”. “I would like to thank the UAE authorities for renewing their confidence in our aircraft. After the Mirage 5 and the Mirage 2000, this Rafale contract confirms the strategic relationship that binds our two countries and the satisfaction of the United Arab Emirates Air Force. historic and demanding partner of our society,” he added.
Deliveries from 2027
The agreement was signed by Eric Trapier while Emmanuel Macron spoke with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed ben Zayed Al-Nahyan, known as MBZ, at the World Expo site. The aircraft will be delivered from 2027, a nearly €2 billion development program to be delivered in 2024 and presented as a “technological, industrial and strategic leap”. This order is intended to replace the 60 Mirage 2000-9s acquired by the Emirates in 1998.
It comes ten years after fruitless negotiations backed by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Since then, the Rafale has made an international breakthrough despite competition from American and European aircraft. It now has six foreign customers: Qatar (36 aircraft), India (36), Egypt (30 new in addition to 24), Greece and Croatia.
The Emirates are currently the fifth most important customer of the French defense industry in the decade 2011-2020 with an order intake of 4.7 billion euros, according to the report to Parliament on arms exports from France. In recent years, Paris has come under fire for using some of these weapons in the conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and its allies are suspected of war crimes by NGOs like Amnesty International.