Rafale jet deal with France will not replace talks for US F-35s, says UAE official

Emirates to change its Air Force Mirage fleet for 80 Rafale fighter jets

The UAE has said its decision to buy Rafale fighter jets from France will not replace its continuing talks with the US for its F-35s.

Maj Gen Staff Pilot Ibrahim Nasser Al Alawi, Commander of the Air Force and Air Defence, said on Sunday: "The signed contract with France is not a substitute for the US F-35 ongoing discussions.

"It's rather complementary to our Air Force capabilities as we continue to develop our air defence systems and seek new products and advanced technologies as part of our overall National Security Strategy."

The UAE will buy 80 Rafale fighter jets from France after an agreement was signed during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Dubai on Friday.

The Ministry of Defence said it will replace its Air Force Mirage fleet with Rafale fighter jets.

The contract also includes maintenance and the training of Air Force personnel who will fly the fighter jets.

"The UAE has been in a process of a thorough review of global markets for options,” said Maj Gen Staff Pilot Al Alawi.

“Based on our talks with our French counterparts, we came to a mutual agreement that the Rafale provides the best option for the UAE's security and defence."

The UAE and France signed several strategic deals during Mr Macron's visit last week.

These included an accord between Mubadala Investment Company and the French Economy Ministry, as well as an agreement between the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Total, among several others.

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Updated: December 5th 2021, 1:04 PM