Saudi Arabia is reportedly eyeing the French-made Rafale fighter, after its long wait for Eurofighter has proven to be futile due to Germany’s reluctance in exporting weapons to the country.
As per French media reports, the kingdom is considering acquiring 100 to 200 Rafale aircraft.
Germany announced in July that it would not allow additional Eurofighter Typhoon jets to be delivered to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi air force’s 72 Eurofighters are its second most numerous fighter type behind its U.S.-made Boeing F-15s.
The move could have irked the U.K., which hoped to hand over 48 jets of the type to Saudi Arabia, a contract for which was awarded to BAE Systems five years ago.
Weapons export to Saudi Arabia were blocked by Germany following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s Istanbul in 2018, taking a far tougher approach than major allies such as the U.S., France and Britain.
Saudi Arabia’s participation in the Yemen war had also been cited as the reason behind the blockade. Pressure from business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) has been mounting to reconsider the stance after Saudi reached a ceasefire with Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen last year.