Egypt Is Possible First Export Customer For French Rafale


Dassault Aviation is poised to win its first export sale for the Rafale combat jet, thanks to Egypt –- maybe.

Under the terms of a deal first reported by French newspaper Les Echos Feb. 6 –- a contract that is still being finalized –- Cairo would buy up to 24 aircraft and a FREMM frigate for up to €5 billion ($6.8 billion).

To pay for the agreement, France and Egypt are negotiating a loan guarantee with France's export credit agency, Coface, which would back half of the deal outside of a 15% downpayment, an arrangement agreed to this week by the French finance ministry.

But the reality is that France has little choice but to help foreign countries buy the Dassault-built Rafale.

According to the French military planning law (LPM) –- a six-year spending scheme that covers 2014-2019, the French government will have to continue shouldering the burden of producing 11 Rafale aircraft a year startin in 2016 if an export deal fails to materialize, a situation that risks busting France's annual €31.4 billion defense budget.

The deal with Egypt could be signed quickly, as Cairo wants the ship and the aircraft to parade during the inauguration of the Suez Canal expansion in August. But in order to get its aircraft, Egypt needs to deposit an advance payment, an amount that would signal the number of aircraft they are really ready to buy.

Egypt already has a a long history with French fighters, as Cairo was the first to sign up for the Mirage 2000 in 1981. The Rafale, which was introduced into service to the French armed forces in 2002, has yet to win an export deal, though 136 have been delivered to the French navy and air force, and Dassault has been in exclusive negotiations with India for the sale of 126 aircraft since Jan. 31, 2012.


Discuss this Blog Entry 20

on Feb 6, 2015

Rafale has s simple problem: Unlike the Mirage III/V and Mirage 2000, the Rafale is not the among the cheapest option for a level of performance.

It is firmly in the mid-range, and at that point, foreign policy realities become more significant, as there are multiple options.

As to the Egyptians, I think that they are stringing the French along to get a better dea for more F-16s.

on Feb 7, 2015

And what is the cheapest option at the same level at the Rafale ?

on Feb 8, 2015

Your question misses the point. The original point, whether stated clearly, or not, is that France had success selling aircraft that were capable, reliable and cheap. The Mirage III series did not equal a Phantom in performance, for example, but they were good enough to do the same jobs. Israel used Mirages to great effect against MiGs.

Today, the Rafale is placed at the top of the food chain, so to speak, and it is expensive. The traditional customers for French aircraft cannot afford it and in that price range, as already stated, there are other concerns to think about -- mostly political alliances. So, to make a reaonable modern comparison to what used to be the case in the era of old Mirages... Today, the latest F-16 can do all the jobs the Rafale does, even if it is (arguably) not quite as good, the F/A-18E/F can do the jobs (also not quite as good) and is literally *half* the price. The Grippen is probably as close as one can get to the spiritual heir to the Mirage III. Then there are the Russians -- Su-30/35, or MiG-35, I am sure Egypt could get a great deal.

But, here's the thing: today, everyone is chasing technology. The mantra from business to military is "buy the best". The idea of cheap and good enough is not popular. Also, those political alliances and consequent trade agreements are more important than ever. Anyone who believes military procurement stands on its own is living in a dreamland. I am willing to bet that any nation that has used Russian equipment would rather not do it again, unless they have no choice. Egypt would much rather tie their fortunes to Europe, or the US, than Russia. I am also willing to be that the Egyptians have noticed that keeping their previously purchased aircraft is a nightmare. You have MiGs, Mirages, Falcons... I would argue that they are working out a way to buy the latest tech and retire as many of their legacy platforms as possible. So, in the end, is the Rafale the right choice? Actually, it probably is. It is certainly as good, or better than any other on offer.

on Feb 23, 2015

Good point on the Russian aircraft. I seem to remember the Algerians returning some new Russian fighters to the Russians in the not too distant past--as unacceptable "junk"!

on Feb 8, 2015

the problem with the f35 is that it is sold before being built, and those they are buying do not even know if it will be over one day

on Feb 10, 2015

What aircraft are built before they are sold? Also the F-35 is most definitely flying.

on Feb 6, 2015

Unbelievable. A moderate, anti-Islamist Muslim leader who has given every indication he is pro-West has to turn to France for weaponry because the U.S. is ostracizing him while we are selling F-35s to an anti-West, Islamist extremist maniac in Turkey. Wow.

on Feb 10, 2015

Not only will Turkey be fielding the F-35, it also manufactures everyting from the center fiselage to a range of electronics and other parts ( Indeed our President drives me nuts as well with his aggressive and often infantile actions and utterances but he is a truly elected political leader with a functioning parliament and a vociferous if ineffective opposition. This is a level of legitimacy and stability that Egypt will attain soon - hopefully with credible parliamentary elections speeding up that process...It does also help that the country has been a NATO partner since 1954 and that relations go beyond the vagaries of individual politicians.

on Feb 12, 2015

I'm afraid that Egypt is several decades behind Turkey in turning over political control to civilians.

on Feb 7, 2015

Deep in debt and struggling to revive its economy, does Egypt really need these expensive weapons that meet no realistic threat facing the country? I am sure France is happy as must be the Generals, as to the mass of the Egyptians who must pay for these toys, well thankfully they're muzzled.

on Feb 7, 2015

I hope that Egypt will not use the $1,5 billion a year in military aid given by the United States to buy those Made in France Rafale jet fighter.
Egypt should better stick to the F-16C/D.

on Feb 12, 2015

They can't. It must be used to purchase US equipment which Egypt has in abundance, everything from M-1 Abrams tanks to F-16s. And that $1.5 Bil hasn't gone up with inflation, so it buys a lot less influence than it did 35 years ago.

on Feb 8, 2015

The rafale is:
Combat proven in all mission
And it isn't not a dream, but a réality , nut the case of F35!

on Feb 10, 2015

How many air to air kills does it have again?

Cocidius (not verified)
on Feb 11, 2015

None to date that I'm aware of. However the Rafale has proven to be very dangerous aircraft when encountered in DACT by US fighters and its no accident that it won a contract with India.

on Feb 20, 2015

Well The rafale did prove it could outmatched the F22 during an exercise in the middle east...

on Feb 9, 2015

The US often downgrades the technology on its high end aircraft. That is why Saudi has a mixed buy of F15 and Tornado/Typhoon. The rafale is optimised for the attack role and presumably the french will include all the bells and whistles

Cocidius (not verified)
on Feb 11, 2015

IF this sale goes through and they truly get Rafale with top shelf avionics including the new AESA it will have a profound impact on the balance of air power in the region.

How will Israel will respond to having such a sophisticated fighter deployed in Egypt will be interesting.

on Feb 13, 2015

"including the new AESA it will have a profound impact on the balance of air power in the region."

150 copies would have a profound impact, but not 24.

Cocidius (not verified)
on Feb 13, 2015

I disagree. Take a good look at what a handful of F-22's routinely do at Red Flag. Ditto for Eurofighter Typhoons in exercises against US legacy aircraft.

Modern networked 4.5 gen fighters can change the course of a A2A conflict in a single day.

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