Team Rafale confident of UAE order
Officials from Team Rafale are quietly confident that a deal for up to 60 airplanes will be made with the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, they are signing agreements here at the show with local entities that further strengthen the French influence in Emirati education and industry.
Eric Trappier, executive v-p international, Dassault Aviation, confirmed here yesterday that the UAE air force had been offered the “F3 Plus” standard of the Rafale, also known as “the Roadmap.” (See Sunday’s Dubai Airshow News, page 6 and 8). A complete service and support package is also on the table. He also confirmed that the UAE has been offered the more powerful version of the M88 turbofan engine, rated at nine metric tons thrust, which Snecma has proposed but not yet developed because the French air arms do not require it. “It’s up to the UAE to decide whether they want this,” Trappier added.
Trappier said that the UAE did have some specific requirements, which he did not provide. AIN believes that these mostly concern unique weapons configurations. These are not in evidence here, but they were suggested by Dassault in model form at the Paris Air Show in June.
However, one previous plan to add conformal fuel tanks to the jet, with a UAE order in mind, has been dropped. “Our empty weight, our internal fuel carriage, our fuel tank options and our mtow are already the best of any current fighter,” Trappier claimed.
A part or complete exchange of the UAE Mirage 2000-9 fleet does not form part of the current negotiations for the Rafale. If there are any such negotiations, they are apparently taking place at government level. There have been reports that Egypt is interested in taking some of the Mirages, the last of which was delivered to the UAE in 2007.
Dassault Systèmes signed an agreement here in Dubai yesterday with Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (Kustar), which has campuses in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Dassault Systèmes will help train Emiratis in the fields of 3-D visualization and product lifecycle management, in which it is a world leader. Dassault Systèmes is due to sign another agreement today, with local industry.
Thales said here yesterday that its joint venture with Abu Dhabi-based Baynuna Aviation Technology is officially established. According to the venture’s CEO, Khalid Al Bu-Ainnian, the company “aims to extend its services and product lines throughout the region, as well as contributing to building the UAE’s own industrial defense capabilities in advanced avionics systems.” General Khalid is the former chief of the UAE air force. Thales now has five joint ventures in the UAE. Team Rafale already has a separate joint venture with Baynuna–Dasbat Aviation–which promotes the Rafale in the UAE.
Two more joint ventures emerged yesterday with other Team Rafale members, both involving Baynuna. Snecbat Engine Technical Services (with Snecma) will provide logistics support service for the UAE’s M53-P2 engines that currently power the Mirage 2000-9s, and other fleets, while Sagembat Defense has been established with Sagem. It will develop, deliver and support high-technology products, to include smart weapons, which presumably refers to the Aasm family.