French fighter sale talks with UAE moving forward: minister

15th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Technical talks on the sale of Rafale fighters to the United Arab Emirates are wrapping up, Defence Minister Herve Morin said Tuesday, adding that France was likely to pick up part of modernisation costs.

Regarding the improvements that the UAE is seeking to the multi-role aircraft, Morin said on France Info radio "that's a discussion we've been engaged in for months and which is in the course of being finalised".

Talks on acquiring the latest-generation French-made fighters began after the UAE expressed interest in 2008 in replacing its 60 ageing Mirage fighters.

Morin said the costs of the modernisation was in the order of two billion euros, not four to five billion euros as has been speculated, and that France would likely absorb some of the costs as it had planned to carry them out anyway.

Regarding Brazil, Morin said he "remains confident" that the Rafale will prevail.

The Rafale, made by Dassault, has yet to clinch a single overseas sale and is in competition with Sweden's Gripen NG by Saab and the F/A-18 Super Hornet manufactured by US giant Boeing.

The deal for 36 fighter planes is estimated to be worth between four and seven billion dollars, depending on details of armaments, maintenance and peripheral industrial involvement.

"We've established a relationship of trust with the Brazilians and they have never let us down," said Morin.

© 2010 AFP

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