France and Qatar have inked a 6.3-billion-euro ($7-billion) deal on the sale of Rafale fighter planes to the Gulf state. It's another breakthrough for France's Dassault company which has struggled to boost exports.
Visiting French President Francois Hollande and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad-al-Thani on Monday signed an agreement in Doha on the sale of 24 Rafale fighter planes made by French company Dassault Aviation.
Hollande told his hosts that Qatar had made "a good choice" in agreeing to purchase the jets meant to be used for reconnaissance missions.
Monday's contract also included the sale of MBDA missiles to Qatar as well as the training of 36 Qatari pilots and 100 technicians by the French military.
More to come
Dassault CEO Eric Trappier said the deal was "a success for his company and the result of hard work by the whole team."
Having struggled for years to sell any of its Rafale planes abroad, Dassault has recently landed several lucrative contracts with Egypt and India. The company is also in talks aimed at supplying 16 more jets to Malaysia and has resumed discussions over potential fighter jet sales to the United Arab Emirates.
Trappier told reporters the Qatar contract was "a good sign for all the countries in the region" as they could now see the true capabilities of the Rafale aircraft.
"It's a little bit the snowball effect - except it's in the desert," the chief executive noted.
hg/ng (AFP, Reuters)