The governments of France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed agreements totaling over $19 billion for UAE’s purchase of 80 Rafale F4 fighters, and 12 H225M Caracal helicopters, as well as air-to-air and cruise missiles.
The Dassault Aviation-built Rafale will be joining the Mirage 5 and Mirage 2000 jets that were also delivered by Dassault between the 1970s and 90s.
UAE’s choice of the French fighter for its air force brings the total number of Rafale operators worldwide to six, in addition to the French Navy and Air Force.
The deal was signed in the presence of the French president Emmanuel Macron, and Sheikh Mohammed ben Zayed Al Nahyane, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Vice-Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Rafale F4, for which the Emirates Air Force will be the first user outside France, will provide the Emirates armed forces with a tool capable of guaranteeing sovereignty and operational independence, Dassault Aviation said. The F4 is the latest variant of the Rafale and will feature upgrades to the radar sensors, front sector optronics, and a helmet-mounted display. New weapons that will be integrated include Mica NG air-to-air missiles and the 1,000-kg AASM air-to-ground modular weapon.
“I wish to thank the authorities of the Emirates for their renewed confidence in our aircraft,” Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, said.
“After the Mirage 5 and Mirage 2000, this Rafale contract consolidates the strategic relationship that binds our two countries and the satisfaction of the Emirates Air Force, a long-standing and demanding partner of our company.”
Caracal helicopter sale
In addition to the Rafale deal, the two countries have also agreed the sale of 12 Airbus-built H22M Caracal helicopters for $1 billion.
The helicopters will be entirely produced and assembled in France, at the Airbus Helicopters industrial site in Marignane, the French defense ministry said.
The helicopters for UAE will be ordered as an extension of a contract France signed in April this year with Airbus for the delivery of eight Caracals to the French Air Force.
Caracal has been in service with the French armed forces for several years, providing combat search and rescue capability.
French missile maker MBDA will also benefit from the government-to-government contracts signed on December 3, delivering 2 billion worth of air-to-air and cruise missiles.