In a deal that has been more than a decade in the making, France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a $19.2 billion contract, defined as the largest ever for the export of French combat aviation products. It consists of 80 Dassault Rafale combat aircraft ($15.8 billion), as well as munitions ($2.3 billion) and 12 Airbus H225M helicopters. This will make the UAE the largest export operator of the Rafale and the only operator, outside of France, to receive the latest Rafale variant, the F4.
The UAE will become the sixth export customer of the Rafale, joining Egypt, Qatar, India, Greece and Croatia. The order brings Dassault’s Rafale export backlog to a total of 236 aircraft (including both new and secondhand examples). The UAE was close to becoming the first export buyer of the Rafale in 2009, negotiating for 60 of the canard-equipped fighters. But that prospect languished—until now.
“The sale of 80 Rafale to the UAE Federation is a French success story,” said Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation. “I am very proud and very happy as a result. I wish to thank the authorities of the Emirates for their renewed confidence in our aircraft. 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.”