Qatar has agreed to purchase 24 Rafale warplanes, French president's office has said. The contract, worth several billion euros, includes training for the pilots and missiles for the Dassault-made aircrafts.
French president Francois Hollande will travel to Doha next Monday to sign the contract, the president's office announced Friday. According to the officials, the new deal with Qatar was a "great satisfaction."
The sale of 24 Dassault Aviation-built Rafale military jets is worth about 6.3 billion euros ($7.06 billion), according to an official from the French defense ministry. The contract includes missiles, as well as training for 36 Qatari pilots and for another 100 technicians, which the French army is set to provide.
According to an earlier Europe 1 radio report, the deal would include an option for 12 more planes, alongside the planned 24.
Paris has been in final negotiations with the Arab country for several months.
After signing the contract, Hollande will continue to to Saudi Arabia, where he is set to attend a summit of Gulf Arab leaders as a guest of honor.
String of lucrative sales
The French company Dassault had previously experienced serious difficulty in trying to sell the Rafale warplanes abroad.
The situation, however, changed earlier this year, after Egypt decided to buy 24 Rafales in a 5.2-billion-euro ($5.8-billion) deal.
India has also announced that it was ordering 36 of the jets, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France earlier this month.
In addition, New Delhi and Paris have been locked in tough negotiations over the sale of 126 Rafale planes for years, aimed to update India's aging fleet. These talks continue despite the smaller contract being agreed upon.
Dassault is also negotiating with the United Arab Emirates, and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has recently hinted that the talks are evolving "in the right direction."
dj/jil (Reuters, AFP)