France is looking to conclude sales of fighter jets to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, according to a report in French media.
La Tribune reported on November 26 that French President Emmanuel Macron pitched the Dassault Rafale combat aircraft to both Astana and Tashkent as replacements for their Russian-made fighter jets during his visit to the region from November 1-2.
The Uzbek military has recently begun a modernization program, inducting new Turkish-made combat drones earlier this month. Given the age of its combat jet fleet, Uzbekistan, in particular, is viewed as a potential customer, according to La Tribune. Uzbekistan has recently upgraded some of its MiG-29s but has yet to line up a replacement platform.
The report added that Uzbekistan does not appear to be interested in the Eurofighter Typhoon and American-made jets may prove too expensive for the Air Force’s budget. Uzbekistan has previously been interested in the KAI FA-50, but in 2015, Washington blocked a potential sale of the related T-50 to Uzbekistan, over concerns about technology security.
Separately, Scramble reported on November 25 that Uzbekistan is interested in purchasing up to 24 Rafales.
A Rafale sale to Kazakhstan is viewed as a more distant prospect, according to the La Tribune report, given Astana’s close relationship with Moscow. Kazakhstan is a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization military alliance.
France has sold some military equipment, such as helicopters, to the Central Asian countries in recent years. La Tribune reported that Tashkent purchased EUR401.6 million worth of military hardware from 2013 to 2022, while Astana has signed for around EUR330 million over the same period.
Note: This post has been updated to include reporting from Scramble magazine.