UPDATE 2-Dassault in talks with Emirates over Rafale jets

May 25th, 2009  

Topic: UPDATE 2-Dassault in talks with Emirates over Rafale jets

UPDATE 2-Dassault in talks with Emirates over Rafale jets

(Updates with comments from president's office)
PARIS, May 23 (Reuters) - Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) is in talks with the United Arab Emirates over a possible order for its Rafale fighter jets, the company said on Saturday, in what would be the first sale of the aircraft to a foreign buyer.
Newspaper Le Parisien reported earlier on Saturday that France was finalising the sale of 60 Rafale jets in a deal worth 6-8 billion euros ($8-11 billion).
The paper said President Nicolas Sarkozy would personally push the issue in a visit on Monday and Tuesday to Abu Dhabi.
Dassault declined to confirm the figures and said an agreement may be reached this year.
"There are negotiations with the Emirates but it will still take a while. We aren't close to finalising a contract in the next few days," a spokesman for Dassault said, adding that the talks were extremely complex.
Le Parisien said the contract under negotiation would cover several years. Citing a source close to the negotiations, it said the Rafale, which was developed years ago, would have to be upgraded to convince the buyers.
Sarkozy's office said ties between the governments, the manufacturers of the Rafale and the UAE air force had deepened since the Gulf Arab state publicly announced its interest in the Rafale last year.
"Things are progressing in a normal fashion," the president's office said.
France has so far failed to find a foreign buyer for the Rafale jet. It 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. (Reporting by Laure Bretton)


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