Uzbekistan shows interest in French Dassault Rafale, wants 24

When French President Emmanuel Macron toured Uzbekistan on November 2, 2023, it wasn’t just the potential shipment of uranium for French energy firms that became a talking point. The possibilities for military-technical collaboration also emerged on the agenda. 

First part of UAE's 80 Rafale F4 delivery program is in full swing
Photo credit: Dassault Rafale

Specifically, Uzbekistan’s leadership is said to have expressed an interest in acquiring 24 Rafale fighter aircraft. However, exact terms and funding arrangements remain undisclosed. This information was reported in a publication from the French industry-specific portal, Intelligence Online.

Speculation is rife among the authors of this piece, who believe that France may find it challenging to sell its Rafale aircraft to Uzbekistan. The main reason behind this conjecture is the heavy demand from other countries like India, Qatar, Indonesia, and Croatia, which keeps the French defense industry occupied with advance orders for this particular aircraft model. Yet, don’t rule out the possibility of France offering Uzbekistan an alternative in the form of their existing Mirage 2000 stock. 

Ukraine 'loudly' wants F-16, but secretly trains Mirage 2000 pilots
Photo credit: Pixabay

As a little trip down memory lane, let’s remind you that Uzbekistan holds the distinction of being the first country from the former Soviet bloc, and additionally, the second nation that uses MiG-29, to express its intent to swap its military fleet for Rafale aircraft.

A recent public disclosure has revealed that, for the calendar year 2023, Uzbekistan earmarked a defense budget equivalent to $1.4 billion. A closer look at The Military Balance 2023 further details that the nation’s combat aviation arsenal includes 12 MiG-29 and MiG-29UB aircraft currently in service, with an additional 18 of the same type in storage.

Furthermore, Uzbekistan has put away 26 Su-27 fighter jets for preservation. The Uzbekistan Air Force maintains a substantial fleet, comprising 12 Su-25 attack aircraft, and 15 Su-24 bombers held in storage. 

Uzbekistan shows interest in French Dassault Rafale, wants 24
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In other news, as earlier relayed, February 2023 saw a significant shift in international arms dealings. Serbia, in a move dubbed as a ‘betrayal to Russia’, made the decision to purchase Rafale jets as replacements for their existing MiG-29 fleet.

Previously in October, we highlighted the increased flight time of the Rafale in the French Air Force, now reaching 290 hours per year. However, let’s not overlook a pivotal detail – this surge in flight time was essentially a byproduct of the withdrawal of 24 aircraft from the fleet in 2023. This was carried out to fulfill export contracts to Greece and Croatia. 

Moreover, we brought your attention to Kazakhstan’s decision to decommission its MiG-31s. Remarkably, these were offered up for auction at a price tag of less than $1 million.


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