The United Arab Emirates has placed an order for 80 Dassault Rafale F4 fighters, with the signing on December 3 of a contract by French President Emmanuel Macron, French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed ben Zayed Al Nahyane.
“The sale of 80 Rafale to the UAE Federation is a French success story: I am very proud and very happy as a result,” Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, said in a company release “I wish to thank the authorities of the Emirates for their renewed confidence in our aircraft.”
The UAE Air Force & Air Defence also operates 59 Dassault Mirage 2000-9s which have recently been upgraded, and 80 AESA-equipped Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Block 60 Desert Falcons. The UAE has also been approved to acquire 50 Lockheed Martin F-35As, although the status of this order is unknown. The US$18bn Rafale deal also include 12 Airbus EC725 Caracal combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopters.
“After the 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,” Trappier added. “I wish to underline the quality and effectiveness of the relationship between the French authorities and industry, which contributed to this success by team France.”
The order is the first export order for the latest F4 model of the Rafale which features an advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, helmet-mounted display, new precision-guided AASM weapons, infrared search and track (IRST), increased data-processing capacity, and SATCOM. All French Rafale C, D, and M F3 fighters will be upgraded to the F4 standard by 2027.
In the wider region, Qatar, Egypt, and India also operate the Rafale – and these countries also operate the Mirage 2000. Greece (another Mirage 2000 operator) and Croatia have recently ordered some former French Armee de l’Air Rafale F3s, with France to order new-build F4s to replace these.