The European arms consortium Eurofighter has been invited to brief officials from the United Arab Emirates on the Typhoon combat jet, manufacturers said, in a surprise overture likely to disappoint France as it tries to finalise a sale of the Rafale.
A spokesman for the consortium from Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain confirmed a report on the recent briefing in industry publication Flightglobal.com, but declined further comment.
The publication said the briefing by UK officials took place in October in response to a request from the UAE, which has held long-running talks with France over a purchase of up to 60 Dassault-built Rafale fighters.
The move was disclosed hours before the Dubai Air Show, where both jets faced off on Sunday in acrobatic flying displays.
A fighter deal is not expected at the show.
But the progress of talks on the Rafale and potential U.S. arms purchases by the UAE loom large, where marketers are expected to seize the chance to extol the performance of their respective weapons in Libya.
Dassault and UAE officials were not immediately available for comment. France said in October it was in the late stages of talks to sell Rafale fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates.
Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said the two sides were in “final discussions” and a deal was “extremely probable.”
“It seems like a way of galvanising the process,” Longuet said in said in response to the Eurofighter report.