A top United Arab Emirates military and political leader closed the Dubai air show by unleashing a rare, rhetorical attack on Dassault for submitting "unworkable" terms in an attempt to close a long-awaited deal for up to 60 Rafale fighters.

After touring the air show grounds on 16 November, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, released a statement to the official Emirates news agency praising French diplomatic efforts on behalf of the Rafale bid, but also slamming Dassault's negotiators.

"Regrettably, Dassault seems unaware that all the diplomatic and political will in the world cannot overcome uncompetitive and unworkable commercial terms," said Mohammed, deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

His statement appears to support a claim by Eurofighter and the UK Ministry of Defence that the UAE is seriously considering an alternative proposal for the Typhoon.

Eurofighter revealed on 12 November that the UAE had issued a request for proposal for the Typhoon to the UK government, the official representative of the four-member consortium to Abu Dhabi.

Also during the show, Boeing named the UAE as one of 10 potential buyers for either the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet or F-15E Strike Eagle, and revealed that the UAE government had requested classified briefings.

All of this appeared to have come as a surprise to Dassault. Only a month ago, the French manufacturer publicly touted the imminent possibility of closing the UAE deal and securing the first Rafale export bid.

Dassault has come close to winning Rafale contracts before in the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore and Morocco, but in each case was rejected in favour of US-built offerings from Boeing or Lockheed Martin.

Mohammed's criticism also comes at an especially sensitive period for Dassault. The Indian Ministry of Defence is also negotiating final terms between Dassault and Eurofighter for a 126-aircraft order.

Dassault was not immediately available to comment.

For all the latest news and views from this year's Dubai air show, visit our dedicated show page

Source: Flight International