Work on building the Rafale aircraft for Qatar will not start until the Gulf nation first pays a deposit for the 6.3 billion Euro deal to purchase 24 fighter aircraft including 2 billion Euro worth weapons.
Various French newspapers reported disquiet in the French government and Dassault over the non-receipt of an unspecified amount as first installment. It is in this context that the proposed visit of the Prime Minister of Qatar, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani, to Paris starting next week assumes significance.
“No down payment, no contract in force,” commented The Tribune newspaper, continuing that Qatar had signed the contract in early May for the Rafale fighter equipped with the latest weapons including Scalp and Meteor air-to-air missiles. The aircraft are to be delivered from 2018 onward at the rate of 11 aircraft per year, a schedule which Dassault Aviation would find difficult to keep unless the deposit is paid and production commenced.
Various other reports have suggested that the slump in the price of oil, which dictates much of the Gulf nations’ budget priorities, could be a reason for Qatar to go slow on the Rafale purchase.
The Qatar deal, coming soon after Egypt signed up to buy the Rafale was celebrated in Paris as breaking the single export customer jinx. Rafale’s sales prospects in India is yet to materialize while there is a question mark over its sales prospects in the UAE.
Reports from the Dubai Air show say that the UAE government just fell short of announcing a major deal, believed to be the Rafale purchase, on the last day of the show. The reasons for this are not known.