UAE to acquire 80 French Rafale aircraft in $19 billion arms deal

A $19 billion arms deal was signed between the United Arab Emirates and France under which the Gulf state will buy 80 Rafale combat aircraft and 12 military helicopters.

The largest overseas sale of Rafale jets was shuttered on Friday when French President Emmanuel Macron set off on a two-day trip to the Gulf, which will also take him to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“This agreement strengthens a strategic partnership that directly contributes to regional stability,” the French president said in a statement following the signing of the agreement between Macron and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Saeed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi. Dubai Expo 2020.

Macron’s visit comes at a time when Arab Gulf states are demanding more weapons from their main security allies, but voices of uncertainty about the United States are centered in the region.

The deal went to French President Emmanuel Macron (centre left) and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Saeed Al Nahyan (centre right). [Thomas Samson/AFP]

The French leader established good relations with Mohammed bin Zayed, with investments flowing between the two countries.

A French official told reporters that the deal will directly support 7,000 jobs in France and guarantee the supply chain of aircraft manufactured by Dassault Aviation until the end of 2031.

He added that the deal with the UAE, following agreements made in Greece, Egypt and Croatia earlier this year, will lead to an increase in monthly lottery production.

Shares of Rafael, manufacturer Dassault Aviation SA, rose more than 9 percent.

French-Emirati relations

The F4 Raffles, which is currently in development, will be introduced from 2027.

With the capture of the combat aircraft, the Emirates is following in the footsteps of its golf rival Qatar, which has purchased 36 aircraft.

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Intermittent negotiations over the Rafale combat aircraft have continued for more than 10 years, with Abu Dhabi publicly rejecting France’s offer to supply 60 Rafale jets in 2011, calling it “uncompetitive and impractical”. Abu Dhabi already has French Mirage 2000 combat aircraft.

The Rafael will replace the Mirage 2000 fleet, but security sources say it is unlikely to replace the US-made F-35 as the UAE continues to maintain defenses with two major suppliers, France and the United States.

However, given concerns about the UAE’s relationship with China, including the spread of Huawei’s 5G technology in the country, the US Congress’s reluctance to ratify the F-35 deal could be seen as a sign of impatience.

Abu Dhabi also ordered 12 Caracal helicopters. This is the French codename for the H225M, a multipurpose military version of the Super Puma.

People walk at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 6, 2017[File: Satish Kumar/Reuters]

France has close relations with the United Arab Emirates and is a major arms supplier, but it is under increasing pressure to reconsider its sales due to the conflict between the Saudi-led military coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels. It has become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

“Despite the UAE’s role in the Saudi-led coup in Yemen, the UAE played a major role in the coup, and France is leading these sales,” Human Rights Watch said. He said in a statement.

However, between 2011 and 2020, the UAE will be France’s fifth largest consumer of arms. The French president should condemn human rights violations in these three countries.”

French warplanes and elements are stationed at Al-Safrah Airport, where several thousand American soldiers are stationed outside the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

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A few months after Macron was chosen in 2017, he traveled to the United Arab Emirates to open the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which was built under a $1.2 billion contract to bring the name and art of the world-famous museum to Share Paris.

In September, Macron presented the historic Chateau de Fontainebleau near Paris to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, which was restored in 2019 with a €10 million ($11.3 million) donation from the United Arab Emirates.

The Mubadala Sovereign Wealth Fund of Abu Dhabi has also allocated eight billion euros (9 billion US dollars) to invest in French companies and at the same time extended the license of the Louvre Art Gallery branch in the capital of the United Arab Emirates to 10 years until 2047.

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