French defence company Dassault Aviation is in talks with Libya over the sale of 14 Rafale fighter jets, in a deal that could be concluded before August 11, said French business daily La Tribune.
A Dassault Aviation spokesman could not immediately be reached to comment on the report. The Rafale multirole combat aircraft is a flagship programme for the French defence industry but has had problems attracting export buyers, Reuters reports.
French defence companies Dassault Aviation and Thales and European group MBDA have been in Tripoli for two weeks to negotiate big arms contracts, the paper said, citing a number of sources.
“Talks are going well, but saying when we will sign is like reading tea-leaves,” La Tribune cited a source as saying.
“But Colonel Gaddafi promised France he would buy the Rafale anyway,” it cited another source as saying, adding that the deal could be concluded before Ramadan starts on August 11.
La Tribune also said that Dassault was now expecting to conclude the sale of the Rafale fighter jet to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by the beginning of October, instead of before the start of Ramadan as previously thought by the company.
The French defence minister said last month that a deal to sell Rafales to the UAE was being finalised, denying that the cost of upgrading the aircraft had risen.
Brazil, actively courted by France as the first foreign buyer for its Rafale, has so far delayed a decision to buy 36 fighters and may have to postpone until after October 3 elections.