French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) Dassault Rafale two-seater to land in sometimes rainy and very windy conditions at Schleswig-Jagel Airbase during the NTM2014 (Image © Marcel Burger)

Not India, but Qatar next in Rafale buy

While Dassault is actively lobbying to get its Rafale sold to India at the current AeroIndia 2015 fair – neglecting the involvement of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for that deal somewhat according to eye-witnesses at the Rafale stand – the second export customer of the French multi-role fighter is closer to Paris than New Delhi. Qatar is about to sign a deal, according to sources in France.

As reported in November, the Qatar Emiri Air Force opts for 36 Rafales to beef up its fighting capabilities and replace a dozen aging Mirage 2000s. French sources initially thought the deal would be signed at the end of 2014, but a reason for stalling has not been disclosed.

Clever negotiations between France and Egypt kicked down the doors of the Rafale export hangar earlier this month, when Cairo agreed to purchase 24 Rafales, becoming the first export customer for the French combat aircraft that did very well in capabilities test of the Swiss Air Force earlier.

Out of budgetary and constitutional reasons the Swiss didn’t choose a fighter replacement yet, but the government in Doha is less constrained by money or people’s opposition against a purchase – as was the case in Switzerland where Bern went for the Swedish Gripen (almost as good, but cheaper) but was called back by the result of a people’s referendum.

© 2015 editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) Dassault Rafale two-seater, soon landing in Qatar? (Image © Marcel Burger)