Egypt is ordering 24 of Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighters. The deal, confirmed by the French manufacturer in a short statement late on February 12, has been concluded in barely three months following an exceptionally fast acquisition process that only started officially in November 2014.
Dassault is expected to deliver the first three Rafales to Egypt later this year, with another three to follow in 2016. The timeline for the remaining 18 aircraft has yet to be confirmed.
Egyptian and French defense officials made initial contact at the end of September 2014, when French President François Hollande visited Egypt and met with President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. Dassault Aviation president and CEO Eric Trappier first met with al-Sisi in December and final agreement was reached, but not confirmed publicly, on February 6. “I would like to thank the French authorities, which were behind the Rafale program and have provided the political support, without which we cannot make any military exports,” said Trappier.
The Egyptian order to renew its air force fleet is a significant boost for Dassault, where negotiations aimed at concluding an order from India for 126 Rafales have been dragging on for three years. Trappier today told French TV station BFMTV that he is “very confident” that the Indian order will be finalized.
Egypt is the first confirmed export customer for the Rafale, which has been in service with the French military since 2001. Egypt also was the first export customer for Dassault’s Mirage 2000 warplane.