Paris, Asharq Al-Awsat—Paris has turned its sights to potential defense markets in the Gulf in the hope of selling its Rafale fighter jets.
This follows the failure of French aircraft manufacturer Dassault, which builds the Rafale, to secure a multi-billion-dollar contract to sell the aircraft to Brazil.
French President Francois Hollande, who visited Brazil recently, said in Brussels on Friday that he had expected the outcome “for several months,” but that he hoped the Rafale would be bought by other countries.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was also optimistic regarding sales prospects for the 100 million dollar aircraft, which has been used by the French military during strikes on Libya and Mali.
Speaking to Europe 1 radio he said that “we have good reason to believe that for India and the Gulf, there will soon be results.”
Abu Dhabi entered negotiations with Dassault in 2008 and 2009 to discuss a contract for purchasing the Rafale. However, it suspended negotiations in 2011, citing price considerations, and subsequently entered into talks with the UK over purchasing the BAE systems-manufactured Eurofighter Typhoon. The UAE withdrew from those negotiations three days ago.
Qatar and Kuwait have also expressed interest in purchasing the Rafale. French sources have said Qatar will make a decision in 2014, though the Gulf country also considering the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin’s F-35.
Paris currently has defense agreements with the UAE and Qatar. In 2009, it opened a multi-purpose military base in Abu Dhabi, the Camp de la Paix.
Dassault is also currently in talks with India to finalize the sale of 126 Rafale fighters.