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France clinches first foreign Rafale jet sale to Egypt

media A Rafale flies over the pyramids Dassault Aviation - Fr. Robineau

France has sealed a deal with Egypt to sell 24 French Rafale fighter jets, a navy frigate and missiles. The 5.2-billion-euro sale is Rafale’s first to a foreign buyer with negotiations with India dragging on for over two years.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is to sign the purchase agreement in Cairo on Monday with Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian representing France.

The Rafale, which cost tens of billions of euros to develop uver nearly three decades, is considered one of the most effective and advanced fighter planes in the world but comes with a hefty price tag.

Dassault Aviation, which makes the plane, has struggled to sell it abroad.

In 2013 Brazil awarded a multi-billion-euro contract to Sweden’s Saab despite intense lobbying by France and negotiations to sell 126 Rafales to India have dragged on since 2012.

Talks are ongoing with Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other Middle East countries.

Egypt’s hardware is in need of a major upgrade, Ben Moores, a senior defence analysts at IHS Aerospace and Defence, told RFI.

Cairo could have gone elsewhere but France's deal was the best, he said.

The French air forces has used Rafales in Libya, Mali and in the US-led bombardments of the Islamic State armed group Iraq.

The government agreed to buy 11 Rafales a year to help the programme but, under pressure to cut public spending, has reduced the number to 26 over six years.

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