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As Gulf Countries Made a Beeline for Dassault’s Rafale, France Strengthens Position in the Volatile Region

Indeed, the Rafale fighter jet is currently in high demand in the Gulf region, with one country after another vying to acquire it.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) –Reluctance from the United States to sell the fifth-generations F-35s to wealthy Gulf nations and Germany’s veto on the sale of Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Aarabia appears to have opened up opportunities for France’s Dassault Aviation to strengthen its position in the region with its Rafale fighter jets.
Indeed, the Rafale fighter jet is currently in high demand in the Gulf region, with one country after another vying to acquire it.

The latest development involves Saudi Arabia, reportedly considering the acquisition of 54 Rafale fighter jets, although French media suggests the world’s second-largest oil producer may be interested in purchasing 100 of these French-made fighter aircraft.

Riyadh is currently in negotiations with France to secure the Rafale, following its unsuccessful attempt to obtain more Eurofighter Typhoon jets, developed by a consortium of four European countries, due to Germany’s veto on on the purchase.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a collaborative effort involving the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

Rafale
Rafale

 

Saudi Arabia’s keen interest in the Rafale fighter jet is rapidly unfolding, following reports that another wealthy Gulf nation, Qatar, is in talks with the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation to upgrade its existing fleet of 36 Rafale fighter jets to the latest and most advanced variant, the “F4.”

The potential for heightened competition in the combat aircraft industry arises as France seeks to strengthen its position, challenging the prevailing dominance of the United States.
The wealthy Gulf nation of Qatar is reportedly in discussions with French aerospace company Dassault Aviation to upgrade its fleet of 36 Rafale fighter jets to the latest and most advanced variant, known as “F4.”

Not content with the upgrade alone, Qatar is also negotiating with Dassault Aviation to acquire an additional 24 Rafale jets in the coming year or by 2025.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu confirmed this development during his recent visit to Qatar, where defence minister from the two countries held talks at the Dukhan Air Base, housing Qatar’s 36 Rafale aircraft.

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 He stated that the discussions  were centered around efforts to enhance Qatar’s military capabilities.

“Intense discussion with my counterpart [Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah], on the Dukhan airbase which hosts the 36 Qatari Rafale,” Lecornu tweeted during his visit.

“At the heart of our exchanges: the multiplication of operational interactions between our armies and new projects to nurture capability cooperation.” 

Qatar’s Air Force acquired its initial batch of 36 Rafale fighter jets between 2015 and 2017, signing a $7 billion (RM31.5 billion) agreement with France in 2015 for 24 aircraft and adding another 12 in 2017.

According to French newspaper La Tribune, Qatar aims to enhance the capabilities of Dassault Aviation’s Rafale to the F4 standard, the latest standard recently introduced into service with the French Air Force.

The primary objective of the F4 standard is to augment Rafale’s connectivity with other systems through the introduction of new satellite and intra-patrol links, a communication server, and software radio.

 France began upgrading its Rafale fleet to the F4 standard in 2019 at a cost of Euro 1.9 billion (RM9.45 billion), anticipating that all Rafale jets in its Air Force will eventually be F4-compliant.

Rafale
Qatar’s Rafale fighter jets in formation.

 

Qatar’s neighboring Gulf state, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has also opted for Rafale fighter jets, placing an order for 80 units in the F4 standard for its Air Force.

The delivery of these 80 Rafale jets to the UAE is expected between 2027 and 2030.

 If realized, Qatar’s total Rafale fleet could increase to 60 aircraft in the coming years.

Currently, in addition to the Rafale fighters, the Qatar Air Force is equipped with 36 F-15QA “Ababil” fighter jets and 24 Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3 jets, making it one of the most capable air forces not only in the Gulf region but also among Arab nations. 

France is also hopeful that Egypt will increase its fleet of Rafale fighter jets, following its decision to cancel the purchase of Su-35 fighter jets from Russia.

Currently, Egypt already possesses 54 Rafale fighter jets. — DSA

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