French Rafale fighter plane sold to UAE. FILE PHOTO

French Rafale fighter plane sold to UAE. FILE PHOTO

UAE Signs $19 Billion Deal For French Military Aircraft


The United Arab Emirates ordered $19 billion worth of military aircraft from France on Friday in a historic deal amid deepening economic and political ties.

The order includes 80 Rafale fighter jets and 12 military helicopters, which is the largest ever sale of the French warplane. The deal was sealed during a two-day trip to the Persian Gulf by French President Emmanuel Macron, who will also visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia,

"This contract is historic," French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said in a statement.

"This contract cements a strategic partnership that is stronger than ever and directly contributes to regional stability, the French presidency said in a statement.

Macron's visit comes at a time when Gulf Arab states have voiced uncertainty about the United States' focus on the region even as they seek more weapons from their key security ally.

The deal could be seen as a signal of impatience as the US Congress hesitates on approving an F-35 deal amid concerns about the UAE's relationship with China.

Defense sources said the Rafale is unlikely to displace the American-built F-35 as the UAE continues to hedge its security with two major suppliers, France and the United States.

With reporting by Reuters

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