The sale of 24 Dassault Aviation-built Rafale fighter jets to Egypt is “imminent,” a French source said, adding that the French and Egyptian defense ministries, and Dassault were holding technical talks on Tuesday.
Two industrial sources have told Reuters that Cairo is looking to buy 24 Rafale jets, a Fremm naval frigate and MBDA missiles in a deal worth 5 billion to 6 billion euros ($5.65-$6.78 billion).
“It will happen. It's imminent. For me the signature is certain,” the source close to the matter said, adding that it was not clear if the deal would be sealed “this week or next week.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has approved the deal, Le Monde newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Despite exclusive negotiations with India for the last three years, Dassault has until now not found a foreign buyer for its multi-role Rafale, billed to be one of the most effective and sophisticated fighter jets in the world, but also one of the most expensive.
A second source, close to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, said talks were due to conclude in “several days,” but said that Paris had not received any official confirmation from the Egyptian presidency.
Officials from Egypt's army and the presidency could not immediately be reached for comment.
Dassault declined to comment, but its chief executive, Eric Trappier, told Le Figaro in comments published on Saturday that its first export deal was close to being agreed.
The Fremm frigate is built by state-controlled DCNS, which is 35 percent owned by defense electronics group Thales . MBDA is a joint venture of Airbus Group, the UK's BAE Systems and Italy's Finmeccanica. ($1 = 0.8864 euros)