Si an order for Rafale aircraft was expected during Emmanuel Macron's lightning visit to the Gulf countries from December 2 to 4, very few hoped that it would reach such a volume! Indeed, the French President and his Emirati counterpart, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, commonly known as MBZ, have this morning signed two contracts for a record amount of € 16bn relating on the one hand to the acquisition of 80 Rafale aircraft to the F4 standard for € 14 billion, including aircraft but also maintenance infrastructure, spare parts and staff training, as well as a € 2 billion contract with the MBDA missile for a stock of MICA NG air-to-air missiles and Black Shaheen cruise missiles, Emilian designation of SCALP EG already in service on the Mirage 2000-9 which equip the country's air forces. The delivery of combat aircraft will take place between 2026 and 2030, that of missiles from 2027 to 2031.
This new order for the French plane is exceptional in more than one way. On the one hand, this is the largest order for Rafale aircraft ever recorded by Dassault Aviation, including from France. With the 80 Rafale, the UAE will become the first international operator of this aircraft, ahead of Egypt and its 54 aircraft. In addition, this is the largest order by amount ever signed by the French Defense Industry, since there is no question here of nested iterative contracts as was the case in Australia regarding sub-contracts. sailors, but of a firm and final order signed in one piece. This order is also the fourth recorded this year, after those from Greece (18 + 6 devices), Croatia (12 devices) et from Egypt (30 new devices), bringing the total of aircraft sold over the year for export to 146 aircraft, almost as many as the number of Rafales in service with the French air force to date.
Above all, with this order, the Rafale, long decried as too expensive and too complex to be exported, becomes the most exported aircraft of its category, with 242 aircraft ordered and / or delivered internationally to to date, against 150 Eurofighter Typhoon, 105 Super Hornet and Growler, 92 JAS 39 Gripen, 48 Su-35 or the 82 F-16 Block 70/72 + ordered to date. Only the F-35 does better than the French aircraft with more than 600 aircraft ordered, without reaching the Rafale export ratio with more than 1 aircraft exported per aircraft ordered (or to be ordered) by the French air forces, against 1 aircraft exported for 2,5 F-35s ordered (or supposed to be) by the US Air Force, the US Navy and the US Marines Corps. With this order, the Rafale will have been exported to 6 countries, approaching the success of its predecessor the mirage 2000, exported in 270 units in 8 countries. Obviously, this order definitively closes the debate and the controversy surrounding this device, which is proving to be a technological, industrial and commercial success.
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