|Quoting Lumberton (Reply 99):|
So what's pending for Rafale?
Well, there's the UAE, if they could pull through this.....
"PARIS - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has requested technical information on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, a surprise move that turns an anticipated order of Dassault Rafales into a $10 billion competition, an Arabian Gulf defense source said.
'The UAE is asking the U.S. for information on the F/A-18 Super Hornet in the single- and twin-seater version,' the source said. 'It is in the very early stages; it's a preliminary contact. The UAE has opened the door to them.'
UAE authorities approached Boeing about a month ago and were directed to the U.S. government, which is expected to respond in a month or so, a U.S. source said.
It's not clear why Abu Dhabi has suddenly expressed interest in the latest version of the U.S. strike fighter. Technology may be part of the reason, but politics is likely the main cause.
The UAE is looking to replace the 63 Dassault Mirage 2000-9s it bought just over a decade ago. As part of Paris' efforts to sell the Rafale, France has offered to buy back the Mirage aircraft, which it would hold in a special-purpose company while looking for an export buyer.
Why The Shift?
It was not immediately clear why the UAE is exploring a U.S.-made option.
The U.S. source said the Gulf state is believed to be frustrated over price and the technology offered by France.
UAE authorities have been negotiating with the French government and industry a potential co-development of a more capable 'fifth-generation' model of the Rafale.
Abu Dhabi is being asked to pay to upgrade the Rafale, while the F-18 is already at the desired technological level.
The Gulf source said, 'The Super Hornet has everything we need. We don't need to co-develop or modify it'."
Come to think of it, those Mirage 2000-9s wouldn't be a bad compromise to replace the Swiss F-5s - at a reasonable price, of course.....
Photo © Aldo Bidini
Photo © Nicola Maraspini
[Edited 2010-09-18 17:41:13]