Another major success for Dassault’s Rafale in just three months: following Egypt’s and India’s earlier order, Qatar is now ordering 24 Rafale fighter aircraft, with an agreement to be signed on 4 May in Doha.
The Qatar order is worth 6.3 billion EUR and also involves training of 36 pilots and 100 mechanics, Paris confirmed on Thursday 30 April. News about a possible purchase from Qatar has been doing the rounds for a long time already. Qatar has been using Dassault Mirage 2000s for a long time already.
The sale marks the definitive end of Dassault’s difficulties in selling the Rafale outside France. After years of marketing talk and endless negotiations with several interested nations, the French company finally sold 24 Rafales to Egypt earlier this year. More recently, India ordered 36 Rafales.
Turn of events
Over the last decade, foreign Rafale sales seemed a myth, with the type loosing out to either Saab Gripen or the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The remarkable recent turn of events is explained by another turn of events: the advance of Islamic State forces in the Middle East, forcing Egypt and Qatar to speed things up. Both French Air Force and French Navy Rafales have been actively fighting IS forces over Iraq.
Also, continuing teething problems on the F-35 – issues with flight control, maintainability, sofware and weapon system – made it clear that the US fighter is far away from being a reliable aircraft, deleting it as an option. An option which maybe was never very likely in the first place for Egypt and Qatar, since the US has already sold the 5th generation fighter aircraft to Israel.
Reliability is also a problem with India’s Su-30 fleet, reinforcement of which was named as an alternative to buying Rafale. Talks about a larger purchase from India are said to continue.
Currently, the only nation flying the Rafale is France, with well over 135 aircraft delivered out of 180 ordered. The original Rafale prototype first flew on 4 July 1986.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Two Rafales seen during operations against IS. (Image © Armée de l’Air)