Saudi Arabia may break with tradition and order French fighters for the first time. According to the newspaper La Tribune, the kingdom requested a proposal to acquire 54 Rafale fighters – Dassault has until November 10th to formalize a proposal.
Currently, the Royal Saudi Air Force operates F-15 Eagle fighters, supplied by the United States, and Eurofighter Typhoon, manufactured by Airbus.
Furthermore, the Saudi government acquired the Panavia Tornado attack jets, which were received in the 1980s.
The Rafale has managed to obtain several orders in recent years, especially in the Middle East, where the supersonic aircraft has already been ordered by Egypt in 2015 and 2021, which acquired 54 planes, in Qatar, which ordered 36 jets, and in the United Arab Emirates, which in December from 2021 they ordered 80 fighters.
A possible agreement between the French and Saudis, however, depends on some political possibilities. The traditional relationship between the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United States could be an obstacle.
Another possibility is a change in Germany’s stance, which barred a second batch of Typhoons in the past due to the controversial death of a journalist critical of the Saudi Arabian monarchy.
However, the current situation in the Middle East following the attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Israel could influence a possible review by the German government regarding the Eurofighter fighter jets, according to La Tribune.
If it ends up ordering the Rafale, the Saudi Air Force will repeat an existing situation in Qatar, where the Dassault fighter flies alongside new F-15s and Typhoons.