UAE negotiating with France for Rafales
A second export customer for the French-made Dassault Rafale combat aircraft has emerged. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has begun negotiations to replace its 63 Mirage 2000s, starting in 2012. “Thanks to its multimission capability, the Rafale is perfectly suited to the needs of defending the UAE in the years to come,” noted a statement from French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office. In the past year, the French president has been boosting defense exports wherever possible, following some notable marketing failures by “France Inc.” Last December, Sarkozy cut a defense deal with Libya that included 14 Rafales. These orders will help Dassault and partners Thales and Snecma achieve a more economic production rate for the Rafale, which France itself has been slow to order in large volumes due to budget constraints. In fact, the 294 aircraft for the French Navy and Air Force that the government eventually intends to buy might be formally reduced this week when the government in Paris publishes a new Defense White Paper.