To consolidate relations, the UAE purchased 80 Rafale fighters made in France Reuters

© Reuters. On December 1, 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron wears a protective mask and waits for guests at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France.Reuters/Sarah Messenne

John Ireland

DUBAI (Reuters)-The United Arab Emirates ordered 80 Rafale fighter jets on Friday. This is the largest fighter order ever. This is a multi-billion-dollar weapons contract that deepens economic and political relations with France. .

French President Macron began a two-day trip to the Gulf on Friday, and will also visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia. His visit comes at a time when the Gulf Arab states are expressing uncertainty about US concerns in the region, even though they are seeking more weapons from their main security allies.

The French leader has established a good relationship with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Nahyan (MBZ), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and investment flows between the two countries. Paris has a permanent military base in the UAE capital.

“In addition to the presence of three French military bases on the territory of the UAE, this mutual trust has also translated into the purchase of 80 Rafale aircraft, 12 Caracal helicopters and related elements,” said the French president during MBZ and Macron during the 2020 Dubai World Expo.

Dassault’s shares rose 6% after the announcement.

The deal may be worth at least 15 billion U.S. dollars. It is the largest purchase of gusts made by Dassault apart from the French army. It follows the deals reached in Greece, Egypt and Croatia this year.

Intermittent negotiations on Rafale fighters have been going on for more than a decade. Abu Dhabi publicly rejected France’s proposal to provide 60 Rafale fighters in 2011, saying it was “uncompetitive and unfeasible”. Abu Dhabi already has the Mirage fighter.

Defense sources said the Rafale will replace the Mirage 2000 fleet and is unlikely to replace the US F-35 because the UAE continues to hedge its security with France and the US, two major suppliers.

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