Brazil, UAE Might Follow India’s Choice of Rafale; Debate Over Swiss Choice Continues

 - February 17, 2012, 11:00 AM
Denied an export order for years, the Dassault Rafale may soon clinch three of them. (Photo: Dassault)

The French Rafale is reportedly well placed to triumph in the long-running fighter jet contest in Brazil, and also to secure the elusive order from the UAE, following the type’s success in India. Speaking at the Singapore Airshow, Indian air force commander ACM N.A.K. Browne told AIN that his country would not accept a revised bid from the losing Eurofighter camp for the 126-aircraft MMRCA requirement. British politicians had earlier suggested this possibility, but it emerged that the Dassault Rafale was the clear winner on acquisition and life-cycle costs. Negotiations to conclude a firm contract will start on March 5, Browne said.

Dassault’s prospects for securing an order from Brazil for at least 36 Rafales brightened when Reuters reported from São Paolo that President Dilma Rousseff favors the French warplane, especially after India’s choice. Moreover, the Brazilians have requested access to India’s selection procedures for the MMRCA, which will be granted, Browne confirmed.

French media outlet La Tribune reported that the long-awaited sale of 60 Rafales to the UAE might soon be concluded, despite last November’s dramatic declaration by the Emiratis at the Dubai Air Show that the price was not right. La Tribune said that Dassault chief Charles Edelstenne returned to Abu Dhabi some days after the show to repair relations. There was a positive outcome, and now French President Nicolas Sarkozy is planning to visit the UAE at the end of March to seal the deal, La Tribune continued.

In Switzerland, Defense Minister Ueli Maurier called a press conference to counter the leak of the Swiss Air Force (SAF) technical evaluation for the new fighter aircraft. This showed the Rafale as the clear winner, the Eurofighter second and the Saab Gripen last. But the Swiss government chose the Gripen package worth $3.4 billion, including 22 jets, as the most cost-effective solution. The evaluation covered flight tests of the three aircraft in Switzerland in the second half of 2008, as well as the SAF’s verdict on enhancements promised but not yet available on the three contenders.

Maurier reaffirmed the choice of the Gripen, insisting that all three contenders had met the technical requirement. The Swedish warplane was the most affordable replacement for Switzerland’s F-5Es, given the pressures on the country’s defense equipment budget, he said.