Dassault Aviation has been a trusted partner of the UAE for more than five decades, supplying and supporting the country’s air force and air defence with the most capable fighters of the latest French technology available. The recent acquisition of the Rafale fighters marks the culmination of this relationship and the opening of a new era of collaboration.
The UAE AF and AD and the Mirage aircraft family
The cooperation between the UAE and Dassault Aviation dates back to the early 1970’s, soon after the Federation was established and the first UAE Air Force was created. The Mirage 5 aircraft, famous worldwide for its flight envelope and its robustness, was the Dassault Aviation‘s first fighter aircraft chosen by the UAE.
In the 1980’s, the UAE AF and AD selected the Mirage 2000 aircraft to increase its power and capabilities, taking a big technological step thanks to its ‘fly-by-wire’ flight controls and modern avionics.
In the 2000’s, the UAE decided to increase its fleet of Mirage 2000 aircraft and to transform it into the Mirage 2000-9, the most advanced version of the Mirage 2000 family. Designed to be a true ‘multi-role’ fighter aircraft, the Mirage 2000-9 added to the UAE Armed Forces some unique capabilities. The Mirage 2000-9 upgrade programme signed in 2019 between the UAE Armed Forces’ GHQ and Dassault Aviation increased again the aircraft firepower and capabilities, bringing it to an unmatched level.
The choice of the Rafale
On December 3, 2021, in the presence of the President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and French President Emmanuel Macron, Tareq Abdulraheem Al Hosani, Chief Executive Officer of Tawazun Economic Council, and Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, signed the historical contract for the acquisition of 80 Rafale F4 fighters for the UAE AF and AD.
Chosen for the seventh time by a country, the Rafale is demonstrating through its obvious operational expertise and its export success that it is today a real ‘game changer’ on the world geopolitical scene and an undisputed tool for independence and sovereignty.
The F4 standard selected by the UAE Armed Forces is the latest version of the Rafale under development for France and it will be in operation in the same timeframe as for the French air and space force. The Rafale F4 will provide to the UAE AF and AD advanced capabilities in terms of connectivity, cyber, as well as new weaponry, in addition to the numerous state-of-the-art capabilities Rafale has already proven on the field. It will actively contribute to ensuring the UAE’s sovereignty and consolidating its role as a major international power.
Moreover, the UAE is not only acquiring the latest Rafale F4, it is rather joining the French roadmap, which will bring opportunities to participate into future upgrades of the aircraft. It is further evidence of the long-standing strategic partnership that includes a large military cooperation between the two country’s air forces, supported by the permanent presence of the FASF on the UAE soil (at French air base BA104, located at Al Dhafra).
Shaping the future of the relationship
Dassault Aviation has stood by the UAE during all these years, to provide the UAE Armed Forces with the best capable aircraft, meeting the UAE AF and AD requirements along with its full support to maintain the highest level of aircraft availability, even during challenging times.
This relationship, going far beyond a standard ‘supplier-customer’ relationship, has gradually been strengthened to become a strategic partnership with the UAE Armed Forces and TAWAZUN, progressively extended to new players of the UAE society and economy, including universities and industrial partners.
Considering the UAE human capital development as a pillar of this strategy, Dassault Aviation has been committed for more than 20 years to develop projects, all aiming at increasing Emiratis’ knowledge, skills and establishing capabilities in the UAE to contribute to the country’s autonomy and sovereignty, in line with the UAE leadership’s long-term vision. As one example to illustrate this strategy, it is to be highlighted that Dassault Aviation welcomes every year in France and in the UAE one Emarati studying in engineering or technical schools for some internships and practical and hands-on learning in its factories.
In continuation of the Mirage 2000-9 programme, which supported the development of the UAE AF and AD expertise, Dassault Aviation believes that the Rafale programme will bring multiple opportunities of cooperation with TAWAZUN, the UAE Armed Forces and other UAE partners to develop ambitious projects in the fields of research and development, engineering, testing, maintenance and logistic support, and to extend Dassault Aviation’s footprint in the UAE.
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