France announced the signing Friday of a €16-billion ($18 billion) armaments mega-contract for the sale of 80 of its upgraded Rafale warplanes to the UAE.
The French Defence Ministry said the deal was France's largest-ever weapons contract for export. It came as French President Emmanuel Macron (pictured) is in the Emirates on the first stop of a two-day visit to the Persian Gulf.
There was no immediate confirmation of the signing from Emirati officials. Manufacturer Dassault Aviation said the UAE is buying the upgraded F4 version of its multi-role combat aircraft. That will make the Emirates Air Force the first Rafale F4 user outside of France, it said. The deal offers a shot in the arm for France's defense industry after the collapse of a $66 billion contract for Australia to buy 12 French submarines.
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