French pave way for Riyadh contracts

04 August 2006

Riyadh and Paris signed in late July two agreements to pave the way for the sale of French military equipment to the kingdom and to enhance defence cooperation between the two countries. Under the accord, several deals are due to be completed swiftly.

Riyadh and Paris signed in late July two agreements to pave the way for the sale of French military equipment to the kingdom and to enhance defence cooperation between the two countries. Under the accord, several deals are due to be completed swiftly.

Officials confirmed that the two states were in advanced negotiations for the sale of helicopters and Airbus supply planes.

According to press reports, the deal will centre on the purchase of 142 helicopters including 64 NH-90 battlefield helicopters, 20 Eurocopter Cougar utility helicopters, 42 Eurocopter Fennec light helicopters, four Panther naval search and rescue helicopters and 12 Tiger attack helicopters. The agreement is valued at about $5,000 million and includes training and the provision of spare parts. A second contract for the supply of Airbus A330 aerial tankers is also due to be signed imminently.

The deals are understood to be the precursor to an even larger contract covering the purchase of 48 Rafale fighter jets manufactured by France's Dassault Aviation.

The multi-billion dollar contract has been in the pipeline for several months, but now looks to finally be moving ahead. Over recent months, Riyadh has been working to modernise the Royal Saudi Air Force. It is already finalising a deal with the UK covering the supply of 72 Typhoon fighter jets, manufactured by the Eurofighter consortium (MEED 24:2:06).

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