Saudi Arabia to order 54 Rafale fighters from Dassault Aviation: report

U.S. Air Force photo

Saudi Arabia is reportedly considering the acquisition of 54 Rafale fighter jets, manufactured by Dassault Aviation.

The information was first reported by Intelligence Online, claiming it was motivated by the impossibility of acquiring additional Eurofighter Typhoons for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

Saudi authorities sent a detailed cost request to the French manufacturer for the acquisition of 54 Rafale fighter jets, demanding an answer by November 10, 2023, La Tribune reported citing multiple sources.

The potential acquisition of 54 Rafale jets by Saudi Arabia would strengthen France’s standing in the Middle Eastern defense market and solidify Rafale’s position as a sought-after combat aircraft in the region.

Egypt became the first country in the region to acquire Rafale jets in 2015, followed by a subsequent purchase in 2021, totaling 54 aircraft.

Qatar also opted for the Rafale in 2015 and later in 2017, acquiring 36 of the French fighter jets. The emirate is reportedly mulling firming up options for 36 more aircraft.

In December 2021, Dassault Aviation received its biggest single order to date, as the United Arab Emirates signed a deal to procure 80 jets.

Additionally, it would be a direct challenge to the Eurofighter Typhoon, produced by a consortium of European companies including BAE Systems, Airbus, and the Italian Leonardo.

In August 2006, Saudi Arabia entered into an agreement to procure 72 Typhoon fighter jets, which were delivered between 2008 and 2017. In March 2018, a memorandum of intent was signed for an additional 48 Typhoon aircraft.

However, in July 2023, the potential order negotiated by the United Kingdom was blocked by Germany. In the aftermath of the 2018 assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, German authorities suspended the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.

The backbone of the RSAF fighter fleet is composed of over 200 US-made F-15C/D/SA Eagle fighters. The first F-15 to be delivered to Saudi Arabia arrived in 1978, just two years after it was formally inducted by the United States Air Force.

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