(NSI News Source Info) February 23, 2009: Despite low oil prices and a global economic slowdown, within an hour of the opening of the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi, several multi-million deals were signed, the local newspaper The National reported. The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engined delta-wing highly agile multi-role fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. The Rafale is being produced both for land-based use with the French Air Force and for carrier-based naval operations with the French Navy. It has also been marketed for export. While several countries have expressed interest in the Rafale, there have been no foreign sales as of yet. The UAE has signed an agreement with U.S. manufacturer Raytheon for the delivery of the company's anti-aircraft missiles that can be launched both on the ground and in the air.
In addition, the UAE Air Force will become the first in the region to acquire the latest and most advanced version of Raytheon's medium-range air-to-air missile as part of the country's modernization plan aimed at establishing a multilayer missile defense system. Many of the Sunni Islamic countries along the southern coast of the Gulf fear the increasing influence of Shi'ite-dominated Iran, and are concerned that due to their close relations to the U.S. they will become targets in possible future armed conflicts between Tehran and Washington. Meanwhile, French defense minister, Hervé Morin, announced that France would open its military base in the UAE by May as part of his country's re-establishment in the region. Last year France and the UAE signed an agreement to establish a 500-man French base in the country.Previously, France sold the UAE 60 Mirage fighter jets and 400 tanks, and the two governments are reported to be in talks about the sale of the more advanced fighter jet Rafale, produced by the French manufacturer Dassault.