A contract for the sale of the 80 Rafales was agreed today between Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault, and Tareq Abdul Raheem Al Hosani, CEO of Tawazun Economic Council, which is responsible for security and defense acquisitions on behalf of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dassault describes the deal as “the largest ever obtained by the French combat aeronautics industry.” The total value of the Rafale contract is $16 billion, on top of which will be added weapons for the jets. These deals fall within a larger French arms package for the UAE worth $19 billion that also includes 12 Airbus H225M Caracal military transport helicopters.
Underlining the significance of the Rafale sale, the French President Emmanuel Macron and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyane, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, one of the Emirates within the UAE and the country’s effective ruler, as well as vice-commander of its armed forces, were both present at the contract signing.
the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defense (UAEAF&AD) will also become the first export recipient of the F4-standard Rafale.
The latest F4 version of the Rafale is part of an ongoing process to continuously improve the fighter and is optimized for networked combat, with new satellite and intra-flight data links, as well as a communication server and software-defined radio. Aside from this, the F4 features upgrades to the radar, electro-optical system, and helmet-mounted display. New weapons are also being integrated, including the forthcoming Mica NG air-to-air missile and the 2,200-pound version of the AASM modular air-to-ground weapon.
The contract UAE comes as a boost to the French aerospace industry and the Rafale program in particular, which has now secured six export customers. The previous countries to select the French fighter are Egypt, Qatar, India, Greece, and Croatia. Other potential customers have been linked with the Rafale in the recent past, including Indonesia, although the type was rejected this year by Switzerland in favor of the F-35.