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Thursday, 2 August 2018

France looks for ways to skirt US restrictions on Rafale sales

France looks for ways to skirt US restrictions on Rafale sales: France is looking to free itself from US restrictions on key components of its Rafale jets that have blocked the sale of 12 jets to Egypt, France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly told France’s National Assembly early last month, Defense News reports. France lacks the means to be totally independent of the US, she said, adding that French authorities are looking for ways to boost its autonomy.

The solution? France appears to want to encourage manufacturers of the components, particularly the Scalp missile, to invest in developing similar systems. “That the manufacturer of these missiles, namely MBDA, make the investment in research and technology to be able to make a similar component, which would avoid [US military export protocols]," she added. “We are able to do it for this contract because the component can be built within a reasonable amount of time even if the client, naturally, sees it as too long.”

So what’s the status of the Rafale sale? From what we’re seeing from Parly’s statements and remarks in March by the chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation — the manufacturers of Rafale — the sale of the planes remains blocked. This comes despite reports from January that Egypt had quietly signed a security agreement with the US to remove the block on the sale. Earlier this month, French daily La Tribune reported Egypt could ink an agreement with France as early as this year to purchase another 24 Rafale fighter jets.

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