As reported by several media today, the United Arab Emirates is expected to complete a deal over procurement of about 60 Dassault Aviation Rafale multi-role combat aircraft this month.
The United Arab Emirates have already massively boosted the strength of its air force in the recent years and is now ready to buy about 60 French Rafale multi-role fighter for an estimated $10 billion. Negotiations between Dassault Aviation and the UAE have continued since 2008.
Although details about the deal are scarce it seems to be certain that the Rafale is going to replace the older version of the Mirage 2000 bought in 1983. These are 22 single-seat fighters, (2000EAD), 8 reconnaissance planes (2000RAD) and 6 twin-seat trainers (2000DAD), bringing the number to 36. Additionally, 30 newer Mirage 2000-9 were bought in 1998, most of the older variants were later upgraded to 2000-9 standard as well.
Apart from the French Mirages, the UAE has 80 F16E/F Desert Falcon in its inventory, the most advance F-16 version and for some analysts a low-cost alternative to the F-35 Lighting II. With the modernization of its fleet the UAE Air Force will have a considerable multi-role capability. The armament bought for the fighter jets in recent years includes the Maverick anti-tank missile and 54 AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
The purchase of the Rafale includes an agreement with the UAE trading company Buynama to market the fighter to other countries in the region such as Oman, which is looking to replace its ageing fleet of Sepecat Jaguars.
The Rafale, which found its way into both the French air force and navy from 2000, has yet to find a foreign buyer and the deal with the UAE would be a much-needed boost for Dassault after its product dropped out of every competition so far, such as the India Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) and the new fighter for the Brazilian air force.