WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- France's arms exports to other countries reached an all-time high after nearly doubling sales to $17.4 billion in 2015 from $9 billion in 2014.
Four major France-based defense contractors contributed to the increase in exports: Dassault, Airbus, MBDA Missile, and DCNS. A majority of sales went to Middle Eastern countries, including Dassault Aviation-made Rafale fighter jets to the governments of Egypt and Qatar, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drain confirmed to La Tribune.
Dassault Aviation sold 24 Rafale fighters to Egypt, and another 24 to Qatar. The company began delivering the fighters to Egypt just five months after the country decided to acquire the jets.
France had another deal to sell Mistral warships to Russia, but was pressured by NATO powers to cancel in light of Russia's increased aggression in Ukraine and the Syrian civil war. Following the cancellation, France reimbursed part of the cost of the ships to the Russian government, and sold the warships to Egypt instead.
La Tribune reports 2016 sales are likely to be the same level or higher than 2015. Current negotiations include a sale of 36 Rafale aircraft to India, and the Thales and MBDA sale of an air defense system to Turkey.