During his visit to Uzbekistan on November 2, 2023, French President Emmanuel Macron sparked discussions not only about potential uranium shipments for French energy companies, but also about possible military-technical cooperation. The Uzbek leadership reportedly showed interest in purchasing 24 Rafale fighter aircraft, although the exact terms and financing arrangements have not been disclosed. This information was shared by the French industry-specific portal, Intelligence Online.

The authors of the original piece speculate that France might face difficulties in selling its Rafale aircraft to Uzbekistan due to high demand from other countries such as India, Qatar, Indonesia, and Croatia. These advance orders keep the French defense industry busy. However, France might offer Uzbekistan an alternative from their existing Mirage 2000 stock.

Uzbekistan, the first country from the former Soviet bloc and the second MiG-29 user, has expressed its intention to replace its military fleet with Rafale aircraft. In 2023, Uzbekistan allocated a defense budget of $1.4 billion. The Military Balance 2023 reveals that the country’s combat aviation arsenal includes 12 MiG-29 and MiG-29UB aircraft in service, with an additional 18 in storage. Additionally, 26 Su-27 fighter jets have been preserved, and the Uzbekistan Air Force maintains a significant fleet, including 12 Su-25 attack aircraft and 15 Su-24 bombers in storage.

In February 2023, Serbia decided to buy Rafale jets to replace their existing MiG-29 fleet, a move that BulgarianMilitary.com described as a ‘betrayal to Russia’. In October, we noted the increased flight time of the Rafale in the French Air Force, now reaching 290 hours per year. This increase was mainly due to the withdrawal of 24 aircraft from the fleet in 2023 to fulfill export contracts to Greece and Croatia.

Lastly, we reported on Kazakhstan’s decision to decommission its MiG-31s, which were surprisingly offered for auction at less than $1 million.