France eyes $11bn UAE combat jet contract

25.05.2009 UAE

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France is finalizing the sale of 60 Rafale combat jets made by France's Dassault Aviation to the United Arab Emirates in a deal worth 6-8 billion euros ($8-11 billion), a newspaper reported on Saturday.
France has so far failed to find a foreign buyer for the Rafale jet. Newspaper Le Parisien said president Nicolas Sarkozy would personally push the talks in a visit to Abu Dhabi on Monday and Tuesday.
'An enormous contract, concerning the sale of 60 planes for a total amount of 6 to 8 billion euros - over the space of several years - is being finalised with the United Arab Emirates,' the newspaper said.
Citing a source close to the negotiations, it said the talks were extremely complex because the Rafale, which was developed years ago, would have to be upgraded to convince the buyers.
The Rafale is France's most sophisticated combat aircraft, combining both fighter and bomber roles, but it has lost out to rivals offering cheaper, less high-tech models.

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