Two Rafale jets crash in Mediterranean

26.09.2009 Europe

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Two high-techs, French-made Rafale fighters have crashed Thursday while on maneuvers in the Mediterranean and one of the pilots aboard has been saved, Defense Ministry sources confirmed but did not give details.

The Rafale is the pride of the French aviation industry and France has been eagerly seeking to sell the plane to a number of countries, including Kuwait which was said to be interested in acquiring "one or two squadrons" of the high-performance fighter.

The plane, which has a USD 50 million price tag, has also attracted recent interest from Brazil, and President Nicolas Sarkozy says there is "a political agreement" on the sale of 36 fighters to the South American country.

There has been some doubt cast on whether the Brazilian military would give the go-ahead for the purchase before fully exploring US and Swedish competition.

The Rafale has also been offered to the UAE, which said it could acquire 60 of the planes and initially Libya expressed interest but that sale appears unlikely.

Despite its heavy promotion of the plane, France has not managed to sell it outside of the French air force and navy. Holland and Switzerland both declined the opportunity to purchase the plane.

It is believed that the two planes that crashed Thursday were assigned to the navy.



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