Feb 18, 2015
France in 'final stage' of talks to sell Rafale jets to Qatar
Manufacturer Dassault Aviation is also in talks aimed at supplying 16 of the multi-role combat jets to Malaysia and has resumed discussions over potential fighter sales to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The UAE publicly rebuffed an offer to supply 60 Rafale jets in 2011.
France said last June it was confident of winning a deal soon to supply fighter jets to Qatar, which is shopping initially for 24 jets plus 12 options to expand its air force.
Competitors include Boeing's F-15 fighter jet, while the U.S. manufacturer is also seeking sales for its declining F-18 model, which is reportedly in consideration in Malaysia.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, the Eurofighter and F-18 are competing for a possible Kuwaiti deal for 28 jets but the Rafale is not a leading contender there.
India picked the Rafale three years ago over the Eurofighter Typhoon for a contract to supply 126 planes, but a deal has not been signed.
The contract with Egypt could unblock three or four other ones.
Bilateral negotiations between Egypt and France took only five months, taking competitors and most industry experts off guard. Three jets a year are expected to be delivered to Egypt in 2015, 2016 and 2017 with the remaining 15 sent by mid-2019.
There was no formal competition, though one defence source said there had been exploratory contacts between Egypt and the Eurofighter consortium but that questions had arisen over the availability of rapid export licences from Britain and Germany.
Eurofighter said it was confident of winning other orders. A spokesman said it had also submitted an offer to Malaysia.
Egypt,is also said to be interested in military transport aircraft.
It currently operates the Lockheed Martin C-130 and is the largest customer for the Airbus Group C-295, while it has long been a target for the Airbus A400M airlifter.