Rafale warplane deal unworkable says UAE
Dubai, November 16, 2011
A long-awaited French deal for Dassault to sell at least 60 Rafale warplanes to the UAE appeared to hit a roadblock on Wednesday after the country's crown prince said proposed terms were "uncompetitive and unworkable."
The deal, which had been negotiated for the better part of a year, was thrown into doubt earlier this week when it became clear that the UAE had asked for details on a rival aircraft, the Typhoon built by the Eurofighter consortium.
"Thanks to President (Nicolas) Sarkozy, France could not have done more diplomatically or politically to secure the Rafale deal," Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, deputy of the country's armed forces, said in a statement, adding that Sarkozy's "personal intervention in this process has sustained Dassault at the forefront of our considerations."
"Regrettably Dassault seem unaware that all the diplomatic and political will in the world cannot overcome uncompetitive and unworkable commercial terms," he said.
A source close to the deal blamed the current impasse on the "arrogance" of Dassault, despite French military officials saying they were confident about securing a deal and hopes of finalising the sale at the Dubai Air Show.
"There is a shared frustration in both the UAE and French leaderships at the apparent arrogance of Dassault," the source said. "Rather than using the strength of the bilateral relationship to close the deal out they are attempting to use it to hold out on pricing and a deal structure that hasn't changed in more than a year and that has been significantly bettered by all competitors."
French air chief General Jean-Paul Palomeros had told Reuters on Monday that the Emirates air force was "very keen with Rafale".
France is struggling to secure a foreign buyer for the aircraft, which is more developed than fourth generation combat aircraft but lags behind fifth generation multi-role fighters such as Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II.
The UAE has pressed for the aircraft's engines to be upgraded with extra thrust and for better radar, industry sources have said, but Palomeros said UAE officials are satisfied with the plane. - Reuters