Middle East, Europe

France, UAE sign landmark arms deal for sale of 80 Rafale jets

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday kicks off official 2-day Gulf tour

Asia Ibrahim and Diana Shalhoub   | 03.12.2021
France, UAE sign landmark arms deal for sale of 80 Rafale jets


France on Friday announced a deal with the UAE for the sale of 80 Rafale jets and 12 Caracal military helicopters, local media reported.

The arms sale came during a visit by President Emmanuel Macron to Dubai, according to a statement by the Elysee cited by state-run broadcaster France24.

"This is an outcome of the strategic partnership between the two countries, consolidating their capacity to act together for their autonomy and security," said the statement.

Macron's official two-day Gulf tour kicked off on Friday and will include the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

France24 said Macron arrived in Dubai before heading to Qatar later on Friday, adding that he is scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Rafale manufacturer Dassault confirmed in a statement that the UAE would acquire 80 of its F4 fighter jets.

Dassault said the UAE would be "the first user outside France" of the Rafale F4.

Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, said the deals would be signed while Macron is in the UAE, without providing further details.

According to a report presented to the French parliament, the UAE was the fifth biggest customer of the French defense industry with €4.7 billion ($5.3 billion) in 2011-2020.

In 2019, Qatar received 36 Rafale fighter jets after signing a deal with Dassault in May 2015.

On the scheduled visit to Saudi Arabia, France 24 cited the French Presidency as saying that the kingdom is a key player in the region and there was need to maintain deep dialogue.

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