The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed a historical deal to acquire 80 French-made Rafale F4 fighter jets for the country’s Air Force & Air Defence (UAE AF & AD).

The deal was signed in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces vice-commander Sheikh Mohammed ben Zayed Al Nahyane, and other executives.

Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier said: “The sale of 80 Rafale to the UAE Federation is a French success story: I am very proud and very happy as a result. I wish to thank the authorities of the Emirates for their renewed confidence in our aircraft.

“After the Mirage 5 and Mirage 2000, this Rafale contract consolidates the strategic relationship that binds our two countries and the satisfaction of the Emirates Air Force, a long-standing and demanding partner of our company.

“I wish to underline the quality and effectiveness of the relationship between the French authorities and industry, which contributed to this success by team France.”

The new Rafale F4 standard will include enhancements to network working methods, sensor developments and their integration.

The Emirates Air Force will be the first operator of Rafale F4 outside France.

Dassault Aviation claims that the aircraft will provide the UAE Armed Forces with a tool that can guarantee ‘sovereignty and operational independence’.

Trappier added: “The success of the Rafale with our armed forces and its sale to the UAE Federation, as well as its export to five other countries who are already customers, clearly shows that French combat aviation is an internationally recognised centre of excellence on the national industrial landscape.”

In January 2019, Trappier confirmed the receipt of the F4-standard development contract for the Rafale combat aircraft.