France’s long-running campaign to sell up to 60 Dassault Rafales to the United Arab Emirates faces a shock last-minute challenge, with the Eurofighter consortium having been asked to submit a proposal based on its Typhoon combat aircraft.
News of the development broke on the eve of the Dubai air show, where both types are scheduled to take part in the daily flying display.
Sources have confirmed that the UK provided a formal briefing about the Typhoon to UAE officials on 17 October, after being asked to explore how it might meet future fast jet requirements.
“We have subsequently received a request for proposal for the potential supply of Typhoon,” the four-nation Eurofighter consortium said in a statement, adding: “we are now working hard to deliver a response.”
Further details about the request, such as the number of aircraft required, or the timeline for a selection decision, have not been revealed.
Both the Rafale and the Typhoon were recently involved in combat action over Libya, flown respectively by the French air force and navy and the UK Royal Air Force. The types are also in the final stage of a massive contest to meet India’s 126-unit medium multi-role combat aircraft requirement. Final bids were opened early this month, with a selection decision possible within the next few weeks.
Dassault is seeking a first export buyer for its “omnirole” Rafale, while the Eurofighter consortium is hoping to build on a customer base which also includes partner nations Germany, Italy and Spain and additional users Austria and Saudi Arabia.