This order is the largest international order received for the fighter since it entered service in 2004.
“In addition to the presence of three French military bases on the territory of the UAE, this mutual trust (between France and the UAE) is reflected in the acquisition of 80 Rafale aircraft, 12 Caracal helicopters and related elements. a great achievement of the strategic partnership between the two countries,” welcomed the French Presidency in a press release.
The agreement was signed by Dassault Aviation Director General Eric Trapier while Mr Macron spoke with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed ben Zayed Al-Nahyane, known as MBZ, at the World Expo site.
The aircraft will be delivered from 2027 to F4 standard, a nearly €2 billion development program to be delivered in 2024 and presented as a “technological, industrial and strategic leap”.
Replace 60 Mirage 2000-9
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.
A new Director of the Aeronautical Industrial Workshop (AIA) in Clermont-Ferrand
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.