Rafale fighter jet proposal unworkable: UAE

The United Arab Emirates, which was said to be in final talks with France to buy 60 Rafale fighter jets, said Wednesday the French offer was unworkable and uncompetitive, WAM state news agency reported. "Unfortunately, Dassault does not seem to realise that political will and all diplomatic efforts could not overcome uncompetitive and unworkable commercial terms," WAM quoted Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the deputy head of the armed forces, as saying. The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, who is the strongman of the oil-rich emirate, praised French President Nicholas Sarkozy for the efforts made to secure the deal for Dassault, adding that the relations between the two countries could not have been better. "Thanks to French President Sarkozy, France could not have done more diplomatically or politically to secure the Rafale deal," he said. "Bi-lateral relations have never been stronger and his constant personal intervention in this process has kept Dassault at the top of our considerations," he added. Last month, French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said that Paris was in the final stages of negotiations with the Gulf state on purchasing Rafale fighter jets, the pride of France's Dassault Aviation. Negotiations began in 2008 for the sale of 60 Rafale fighters used by France's armed forces but yet to be sold abroad. Abu Dhabi has asked for an improved version fitted with a more powerful engine from Snecma of the Safran group with a thrust of nine tonnes, as well as a higher performing radar system from Thales. Financing of these improvements "is one of the issues under discussion," a top Dassault Aviation official said in February. On Sunday, the European consortium behind the Eurofighter Typhoon said it was invited by the UAE to present a counter offer. The consortium said that the UAE had asked Britain, which uses the Eurofighter, to provide it with information about the aircraft capacity and that a briefing took place on October 17. "We have subsequently received a request for proposal for the potential supply of Typhoon," Eurofighter said of its fighter jet in a statement, adding: "We are now working hard to deliver a response." Both the Rafale and the Typhoon were recently involved in combat action over Libya, flown respectively by the French air force and navy and the British Royal Air Force. The models are also in the final stage of a massive contest to meet Indias 126-unit medium multi-role combat aircraft requirement. Final bids were opened earlier this month, with a decision possible within weeks. Dassault is seeking a first export buyer for its "omnirole" Rafale, while the four-nation Eurofighter consortium is hoping to build on a customer base which includes partner nations Germany, Italy and Spain and additional users Austria and Saudi Arabia. The UAE airforce includes US F-16 and French Mirage 2000-9 fighter jets. (c) 2011 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Nov 16, 2011