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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Conflicting reports over UAE-French fighter-jet talks

Protracted negotiations have yet to result in a multi-billion dollar deal for the UAE's purchase of the French Rafale jets.
The UAE has expressed interest in the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.
The UAE has expressed interest in the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.

ABU DHABI //Military cooperation is central to the strategic relationship between the UAE and France, according to Rashid al Marar, a member of the FNC's foreign relations committee. 

That relationship has been in the spotlight recently, with conflicting reports about the status of a multi-billion dollar deal that could result in the UAE's purchase of 60 Rafale fighter jets from France. 

According to WAM, the state news agency, the UAE as long ago as June 2008 announced that it was entering preliminary talks with France to purchase Dassault Rafale fighter jets, which would replace the military's fleet of Mirage jets.

Protracted negotiations have yet to result in a deal for the fighters, which cost about US$70 million (Dh257m) each. 

Defense News, an industry website, last month reported that the UAE sought technical information from Boeing on the company's F/A-18 Super Hornet, a direct competitor to the Rafale and a mainstay of the US navy. Dropping the Rafale in favour of the Super Hornet, which costs about $60m each, would result in a greater reliance on the US, already by far the largest supplier of arms to the UAE and the region.

Alain Silvy, a top official with the French Air Force, told Défense et Sécurité Internationale, a magazine that covers the defence industry, that part of the reason for the delay in completing the deal with the French is that the UAE military wants a Rafale with more advanced capabilities than the jets currently have. 

The additions include M88-X engines, which produce nine tonnes of thrust. The planes are now outfitted with M-88 engines, which produce about 7.5 tonnes of thrust. In addition, the UAE wants the planes' radar system to be upgraded.

The Super Hornet's General Electric engines are more powerful than the Rafale's.

Published: October 8, 2010 04:00 AM