French President François Hollande will travel to Doha on May 4 to witness the signature of the contracts by the CEOs of Dassault Aviation and MBDA, according to the Elysée’s official communique. Contracts will be signed between the two manufacturers and the State of Qatar, while a separate agreement guaranteeing the deal will be signed between the two governments.
Antoine Bouvier will go to Doha May 4 with French President to sign the weapon package contract for 24 Rafale http://t.co/8wPdrmD6jG— MBDA (@byMBDA) April 30, 2015
Earlier, citing sources at the Elysee Palace and the ministry of defense, Agence France Presse (AFP) had reported the deal will cover an initial batch of 24 aircraft with a further 12 on option. Contract value is estimated at over €3.5 billion. Including weapons supplied by MBDA, which are covered by a separate contract, the deal’s total value increases to €6.3 billion, Reuters reported citing MoD sources, but none of these figures have been officially confirmed.
Initial deliveries of a small number of aircraft could take place as early as 2017, but the remainder will depend on how fast Dassault can ramp up production.
After two decades of unsuccessful marketing, Dassault has this year received orders from Egypt (24 for approx. €3 billion), India (36 for €5.2 billon) and now Qatar (24 firm orders for approx. €3.5 billion), for a total of 84 aircraft worth nearly €12 billion, excluding the cost of Qatar’s 12 options.
Qatar, which currently operates a dozen Mirage 2000-5 (and previously operated Mirage F-1s, both made by Dassault) wants to procure a modern fighter and to expand its air force. After seeing the Rafale perform during the Libyan air operations in 2011, it opened talks to buy Rafales with then-President Nicolas Sarkozy, but later suspended them when he was voted out of office in 2012.
It reopened talks on a Rafale buy about two years ago, and was spurred to bring its order forward by recent Rafale orders from Egypt and India, which together will take up all available delivery positions for the next four or five years, until the production rate can be ramped up from its present 11 aircraft per year.
The United Arab Emirates have also recently reopened talks on the purchase of 60 Rafales, to replace their Mirage 2000-9s, and this probably also moved Qatar to place its order quickly to avoid having its deliveries further delayed.